Myanmar military uses drones to attack village in Sagaing’s Katha Township

Pyin Htaung Lay, on the border with Shan State, has since reportedly become a base for assaults on neighbouring villages

Residents of the village of Pyin Htaung Lay in Sagaing Region’s Katha Township were forced to flee their homes early Tuesday morning following a surprise drone attack by regime forces.

The pre-dawn assault was carried out by troops stationed in Nga Oe, a town located on the other side of the Shweli River in Shan State’s Mabein Township, according to an officer of the anti-junta Katha Township People’s Administration Team.

“They used drones to drop bombs on where they thought we’d be at around 5am, causing villagers to flee. Some people didn’t even know which way to run,” said the officer.

After the attack, a column of around 80 soldiers from Infantry Battalion 121 occupied the village, where a number of monks and other civilians who failed to escape in time were stranded at the local monastery.

The troops then proceeded to set fire to houses and a number of other buildings, including the village’s clinic, according to the administration team officer.

At least 30 structures were “reduced to ashes,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now on Wednesday.

In an effort to stop the arson attacks, the Katha Township People’s Defence Force (PDF) fired on the regime forces with heavy artillery twice—once at around noon on Tuesday, and again at 10am on Wednesday.

In response, the junta troops returned fire, but did not stop burning down houses, according to PDF sources.

There were no confirmed reports of casualties on either side of the conflict at the time of reporting.

The village remains under the control of the army column, which is reportedly using it as a base from which to launch artillery attacks on the surrounding area.

Several thousand people living in neighbouring villages have since fled the area, according to reports.

A local resident told Myanmar Now that the military has also closed sections of the Mandalay-Bhamo road passing through Katha Township, stranding a number of transport vehicles.

Katha Township is one of several townships in Sagaing Region where the Kachin Independence Army has been supporting the PDF and other resistance forces. Others include Indaw, Banmauk and Htigyaing townships, which are all in Katha District.

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