At least 10 more people were killed in junta raids and aerial attacks in Sagaing as Myanmar army soldiers and allied militia members continued a litany of assaults on communities in the region earlier this week.
Among the casualties was a six-year-old from Kyunhla Township and a 17-year-old boy from Sagaing Township, with both found dead on Monday during separate raids.
The body of the younger child was among nine people killed in Tei Pin Seik village, which was occupied by junta troops for four days, according to local sources. They claimed that some 160 junta troops began raiding the village on August 25 after arriving in two batches from three military helicopters.
Residents fled gunfire from the aircrafts, but the six-year-old in question was reportedly among those who were hit.
A 32-year-old man, Naing Win, was also killed while he tried to escape on a boat down a local stream.
“They fired from helicopters, so even children were not spared. Two people were killed that day. I think they used a machine gun from the helicopter,” a local from Tei Pin Seik said.
Sixty-year-old Tin Min was found dead in the stream with a gunshot wound to his chest, while the body of another man, reportedly not from Tei Pin Seik, was found with similar injuries inside a residential compound, the local said.
The bodies of four other people were discovered in two houses that had been burned by the soldiers. The victims were not able to be identified.
Citing eyewitnesses, displaced locals from Tei Pin Seik told Myanmar Now that an eight-year-old was also killed by shrapnel during the aerial assault and that the soldiers had thrown the child’s body into the stream. At the time of reporting, the child’s remains had not been located.
Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify the local accounts of the raid in Tei Pin Seik.
On August 26, half of the occupying troops left the village and advanced to Ein Chay, a community around 10 miles to the north, where they torched more than 100 homes.
Mu River village raids
The military has also been raiding and destroying villages along the Mu River in Sagaing Township since Monday. A 17-year-old boy was reportedly killed in a junta attack that day in Taungmyo village.
Local news sources reported that at around 6am, some 50 soldiers left the village of Kywel Pone—where a military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia group is based—and started firing heavy artillery at Taungmyo, two miles northwest of Sagaing town.
“There hasn’t been a battle yet but the resistance forces have a strong presence in this territory,” a local man said. “The military was gathering momentum in a Pyu Saw Htee village called Kywel Pone and was sporadically attacking the surrounding villages.”
Taungmyo originally had more than 200 households; 37 of them were destroyed during the Monday assault. A guide reportedly instructed the military regarding which houses to set fire to, according to the local man who spoke to Myanmar Now.
The troops then left Taungmyo for the village of Taung Kyar, six miles northeast, and started torching the community at around 3pm on Tuesday. Further details on the extent of the destruction in Taung Kyar were not available at the time of reporting.
Local news sources claimed that hundreds of locals from Taungmyo, Taung Kyar and other nearby villages were displaced by the attacks.
The military and Pyu Saw Htee have reportedly set up a major base in Kywel Pone, complete with trenches. The village was attacked by local anti-junta defence forces on July 22, resulting in casualties on both sides, according to statements released by the resistance groups involved.
On Sunday, one day before the series of raids started in Sagaing Township, a military unit attacked a clinic in Kani Township, more than 90 miles to the west. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) had been seeking treatment at the site, located in Thayet Pin village.
The junta troops subsequently destroyed 20m kyat (US$9,500) worth of medical supplies, dumping some into a well.
“They took out all the medications and medical appliances and set them on fire. The clinic used to be able to look after around 50 patients. They were just trying to help the IDPs when they themselves were struggling,” said a Kani Township local.
A source who had been helping the displaced persons told Myanmar Now that the soldiers also torched two buildings in the Thayet Pin school compound.
More than 90 civilians, including children and elderly people, were held hostage for one day by the military and released after being subjected to junta propaganda speeches on Monday.
The column moved on to the village of East Wardan three miles away, where they torched nearly 20 buildings, and then towards Monywa along the Chindwin River on Tuesdady morning.
The same group of soldiers also launched airstrikes on Yin Paung Taing village on August 11 and has been raiding the villages around Pale, Yinmabin and Kani townships over the last three weeks.
At the time of reporting more than 28,000 homes had been destroyed nationwide by the Myanmar military since the February 2021 coup, with more than half torched between April and June, according to monitoring group Data for Myanmar.
Some 20,000 of the targeted homes were in Sagaing Region.
The military denies responsibility for such attacks.