Thousands flee villages in Sagaing’s Taze as soldiers occupy local police stations 

More than 5,000 people have fled their villages in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township in recent days after hundreds of soldiers arrived in the area as part of a push by the junta to establish control over the rebellious region. 

Residents of 11 villages including Kar Paung Kya, Leik Chan, Pakar, Taung Kyaung, and Nwarku are now sheltering in woodlands after some 500 troops set up camp in police stations throughout the area, a local aid worker told Myanmar Now. 

The soldiers are believed to have been sent from units stationed in Ye-U and Kyunhla townships, he added. 

A member of the local People’s Defence Force (PDF) said roughly 50 soldiers were now camped at a police station in Kanhtuma village, while another 100 were staying at the Taze Township police station and in Kar Paung Kya. 

Over 100 soldiers have set up camp near Sat Pyar Aing village and another 130 are stationed near Seinnan village, he said. 

“It appears that they are trying to surround Taze from all four directions,” said the PDF member. “There were only around 200 soldiers in the region but I think they are going to clear the area with all those reinforcements. We still don’t know where they are going to attack first. It makes me think they’re still waiting for orders.” 

The convoy that arrived at Seinnan includes some soldiers who had limb injuries and the military council has been sending food supplies, weapons and ammunition to soldiers in Kanhtuma village, said a local.

He added that the military appeared to be trying to reoccupy the road linking Taze with Kalaywa and Ye-U, a route that plays an important role in sending reinforcements and supplies.

The aid worker said those who fled would have to stay in the woods for some time and relatives and locals were sending them supplies. 

It was not feasible to set up a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) because it would become a target for the military, he added. 

“They don’t care if you’re an IDP. They won’t hesitate to shoot or torture anyone,” he said. “We can’t open a camp for that reason. The IDPs need to move to another place once the military arrives.” 

One of those who fled said the villagers were supposed to be harvesting their crops now and being away will take a huge toll on their livelihoods. “We can’t reap the crops in time since we’re on the run,” he said.

“The soldiers always march through the paddy fields and destroy the crops,” he added. 

The military has sent thousands of troops recently to Sagaing Region and Chin State, and has even employed attack helicopters, in a bid to crush fierce armed resistance to its rule. 

The armed resistance in Taze began after soldiers opened fire at a protest where thousands of people were marching on April 7, killing seven people. 

The military has raided the Kar Paung Kya village a total of nine times and torched houses there. Soldiers also raided Kyeekone village on September 23 and set fire to houses there.

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