Nine civilians reported dead after attack on Sagaing village

A military attack on the village of Natchaung in Sagaing Region’s Kalay Township last Thursday left at least nine civilians dead, according to local residents and resistance sources.

Members of the Kalay chapter of the anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF) said the military deployed two helicopters in the attack, which came after the PDF ambushed soldiers stationed at the village’s high school on Thursday morning.

At least one of the casualties was shot from a helicopter, while the others were killed by soldiers in the village, a Kalay PDF member told Myanmar Now.

“Four people were shot dead when they ran into troops stationed in the village. Another was hit by a bullet fired from a helicopter,” said the PDF fighter, referring to five people who had been killed during the attack.

Another four people, including a woman who was shot while passing the village high school on her motorcycle, were killed later in the day, he added.

Unlike most other villages that have been occupied by regime forces, Natchaung still has many of its residents, according to one man living there.

“If we tried to flee, we’d have to pass through areas where [the military] is stationed, so many of us are trapped here,” he said, adding that it has also been difficult to get information about those who have been killed.

“We just want to give the deceased proper funerals. It would be nice if the military would let us collect their bodies,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. 

There were also reports that regime forces stationed at a school in Htomar, a village about 10km northeast of Natchaung, fired on nearby mountains at around 11pm on Thursday, presumably in an effort to target resistance forces who had fled there after the attack on Natchaung.

Thousands of people from the villages of Natmyaung and Chaung Gwa were forced to flee the army shelling and are now sheltering in nearby forests and monasteries, sources said.

One monastery located south of Natchaung was hit by an artillery shell on Friday, according to a woman who is among the more than 100 displaced villagers currently staying there.

“We have nowhere else left to run. We just have to accept our fate if they decide to attack the monastery as well. Even the monks are shaking with fear,” she said.

The PDF attack that triggered the air raid on Thursday came a day after regime forces entered Natchaung and arrested six residents, sources told Myanmar Now. 

In a statement released on Friday, the PDF said that one of its members was injured in the ambush and 16 junta soldiers were killed. Another 17 died later in an attack on a convoy of military vehicles carrying reinforcements, the statement claimed.

Meanwhile, the junta released its own statement on the same day claiming that nine PDF fighters had been killed in the clash. 

The Kalay PDF denied this, saying that the nine casualties were local civilians and not PDF members.

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