At least 20 civilians were killed and 38 homes torched in Natchaung village in Sagaing Region’s Kalay Township following military airstrikes and continued clashes in the area, an ousted parliamentarian and a local resistance fighter told Myanmar Now.
Local defence forces found the murdered locals in Natchaung while checking on the homes that had been destroyed following the junta’s occupation of the community. Myanmar army troops had stationed themselves in the village since the third week in December, with intense clashes with the resistance beginning on December 22, according to elected regional MP Thant Wai Kyaw, who was unable to take office after Myanmar’s February 1 coup.
A December 31 document compiled by resistance force members who had visited Natchaung listed the victims in the village as: Htoo Aung, 72; Min Din, 62; Win Myint Yi, 60; Aye Ko, 60; Maung Kyi, 58; Htay Maung, 57; and eight more people between the ages of 20 and 40 whose names were not released. The remaining bodies have yet to be identified.
“We only found the bodies when we finally went back into the village to check. Some of the bodies were out in the streets. We didn’t have enough time to bring all the bodies back, so we just cremated them there in the streets,” Thant Wai Kyaw explained.
No further details on the casualties have been disclosed.
Photographs and videos seen by Myanmar Now show the remains of multiple buildings in Natchaung which were reduced to ashes.
Additional damage done to the neighbouring villages of Hakhalay, Chaungkwa, Yaeso and Pan Mon Chaung was not yet known, according to the MP.
A local alliance including the Kalay Pa Ka Pha*, the Kalay People’s Defence Force (PDF), the Chinland National Defence Force (CNDF) initially attacked the military column occupying Natchaung on December 22, leading to a series of clashes lasting seven days.
The number of casualties on both sides has not yet been verified.
Myanmar Now’s repeated calls to the junta’s spokesperson regarding the clashes in Kalay Township have gone unanswered.
Statements released by local defence forces claimed that at least nine civilians were killed during a military airstrike on Natchaung on December 23.
Thant Wai Kyaw said that the total number of casualties in the area were still unknown as there were other villages targeted by the junta that defence forces had not yet been able to access.
“The defence forces are now making lists of the houses that were burned down and of those who were murdered in Natchaung. No information is available yet for other villages. The displaced villagers of Natchaung still can’t come back home either,” she said.
Some 10,000 locals from five villages in southern Kalay Township, including Natchaung, Nat Myaung, Chaungkwa, Hakhalay and Yaeso have been displaced by recent fighting and are in need of humanitarian supplies including clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, food and medicine.
*Pa Ka Pha groups are self-organised resistance forces loosely affiliated with the PDF created by the shadow National Unity Government in May. Sometimes called local PDFs, or LPDFs, they have emerged around Myanmar in response to the junta’s violent suppression of anti-coup protests.