Soldiers arrest dozens in Ayeyarwady Region in hunt for PDF fighters 

Soldiers have arrested dozens of people in Ayeyarwady Region in recent days as part of a crackdown aimed at stamping out local People’s Defence Force (PDF) chapters, residents have said. 

Sixteen people were arrested in Thae Phyu, Ngapudaw Township, on Saturday after a group of soldiers came and set up camp in the village at the house of an alleged military informant, said one local. 

“They arrived at the village at around noon… they came on 13 or 14 motorcycles with two soldiers on each,” he said. “They started searching the woods at around 7pm that evening.” 

Those arrested were farmers who had been staying outside of the villages in huts near their farmland. 

“We didn’t know what was going on but we saw the soldiers taking them,” the local said. “Two of them had their hands tied behind their backs. There were women and children there too. We couldn’t identify anyone because the lights were off.” 

Another 30 locals were arrested the following day at the same place, he said, adding that soldiers have been carrying out security checks at the entrances to the village. Those detained include both men and women. 

Government employees from the village who are participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement have gone into hiding. 

A second local said the 16 farmers were sent to the Ngaputaw police station shortly after they were detained. Soldiers claimed to have found weapons in the forest near the nearby village of Nyaung Waing, he added.  

The tactical operations commander from Western Military Headquarters of Pathein is stationed at Thae Phyu village, and three military columns made up of hundreds of soldiers are inspecting the nearby villages of Than Pat Kwin and Thit Yaung, he added. 

On September 22, soldiers raided another village in Kangyidaunt Township because they suspected there was a PDF base there, the leader of a PDF chapter operating in the area told Myanmar Now 

Soldiers arrested a woman, ransacked a house and stole chickens, pigs and cows before firing guns in the village, he said. PDF fighters in the village managed to escape the raid, he added. 

The following day, some of the PDF fighters who escaped were arrested in a village that is also called Thae Phyu, this one in Thabaung Township. It appeared that the military was using the mobile phone of an arrested PDF member to find other members.

“There have been so many arrests in Ayeyarwady. I think they’re trying to focus their assaults on the areas where the PDF’s movements are not very strong,” the PDF leader said.

Compared to other areas such as Chin, Sagaing and Magway, there have been relatively few armed attacks against junta targets in Ayeyarwady. Three people were killed in June as locals in Kyonpyaw Township clashed with junta soldiers. 

In July PDF fighters in Myan Aung Township were forced to flee after soldiers arrived in the area to track them down. 

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