Soldiers kill four locals during raids on villages in Gangaw Township

During raids that displaced thousands on the Myittha River’s west bank, junta troops captured villagers before killing them and disposing of the bodies in the river

Junta forces reportedly killed four civilians they had taken captive last week during attacks in villages in Magway Region near the border with Chin State. 

A junta column of around 80 troops from Infantry Battalion 50, which is based in Gangaw, began moving through the area near the village of Ah Nauk Gant Gaw (West Gangaw), Gangaw Township, on the west bank of the Myittha River on Wednesday. 

A resident of the town of Gangaw with connections to the anti-junta resistance forces said that the column, which had crossed the river before entering West Gangaw, took three of the village’s residents captive, killing one of them the same day.

The next day, the junta troops raided nearby Shone Shi village before killing one of the captive civilians from West Gangaw as well as two Shone Shi villagers, according to the Gangaw resident. 

The fate of the remaining person taken from West Gangaw was unknown, and junta forces were still present in the area, he said. The victims’ personal and identifying details are still unconfirmed. 

“They killed the victims in Shone Shi that afternoon, then burned down a house at 3pm. That evening, they carried away three bodies on a tri-motorcycle and dropped them off the bridge into the Myittha River,” he said.

The bodies have not been recovered as of Monday due to the river’s depth and the strength of its currents during the rainy season, according to the Gangaw resident. 

He added that some 5,000 residents of West Gangaw, Shone Shi and Zar Haw villages, all on the west bank, had had to flee their homes. 

A middle-aged man who had fled confirmed that many villagers had been displaced. Resistance forces active in the area attacked the junta column on Thursday night, and the man claimed to have heard an exchange of fire between the two sides.

“We had to flee into the forests or to where our relatives live in distant villages,” he said on Friday afternoon. “Last night, four or five heavy weapons went off. We could hear the junta artillery firing back. Even now we can hear the sounds.”

The junta is still sending reinforcements and arms from Gangaw, and local residents fear returning home amid the heightened military presence, said the middle-aged man. 

More than two years after the coup of February 2021, Gangaw Township, which shares borders with Sagaing Region and Chin State, has become a stronghold for the armed resistance against the military regime. 

Since the coup, armed conflict and insecurity have forced more than 1.6 million from their homes in Myanmar, including more than 200,000 in Magway Region, according to information updated in late July by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

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