Resistance forces attack military camp in Kalay after troops pressure locals to fight for junta

Resistance fighters said that they attacked a Myanmar army camp in Sagaing’s Kalay Township this week because the soldiers at the site had been putting pressure on locals to form pro-junta militias. 

The troops had reportedly been stationed in Yan Gyi Aung village along the Gangaw-Kalay road, some 20 miles outside of Kalay town, for months. 

A coalition of anti-junta defence forces, including the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) chapters from Hakha and Kalay-Kabaw-Gangaw, as well as the Ranger Kalay Defence Force carried out the attack last Saturday and again on Monday and Thursday. 

“They are rallying in the villages and pressuring the civilians to form militias so that they wouldn’t be able to join our defence forces, and so that they could have more control over the region,” an information officer from the CDF in Kalay-Kabaw-Gangaw’s third battalion said. 

He added that some 30 junta soldiers had been interrogating locals at the site and threatening the village with indiscriminate artillery fire. 

Around 10 troops were killed in the ambush, but the resistance suffered no casualties, according to the CDF. The military council has not released a statement on the incident. 

Residents of Yan Gyi Aung confirmed that the junta’s forces had been pushing them to sign up for militia training. 

“Villagers do not dare to pass through the military camp as they would brutally search and interrogate us,” a 30-year-old from the community said, adding, “They also summoned the village’s elders and told them to form a militia and sign up for their training.” 

The first resistance attack on the camp took place at 1am on February 12, with some locals fleeing their homes immediately and the rest following over the next few days. 

“Nobody dared to stay in the village once the military started firing artillery shells. They fired them right into the village. They also fired at the area where the displaced people are sheltering four or five times,” the villager said, himself displaced by the fighting. 

Some 4,000 people from the neighbouring villages of Than Bo and Bo Kone have been seeking refuge in forests in the area, where they continue to face difficulties accessing food and medicine.

“The elderly and the small children are really having it the worst. It’s very sad. They’re all getting sick due to the cold weather,” he explained. 

Kalay was one of the first townships to take up arms following the coup in February last year in defiance of the junta. 

More than one year later, the People’s Defence Force (PDF) of Kalay claims that some 70 percent of the village tracts—more than 100 villages—are under the control of the resistance, rather than the junta.  

The military has declared the PDF a terrorist organisation. 

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