Three men found dead after junta attacks villages on Ayeyarwady River in Kachin State

Targeting the KIA and allied resistance groups, military forces carried out airstrikes and fired shells from boats on the river, displacing and killing civilians living along the bank

Resistance members believe the three men whose bodies they discovered on Monday were among the many locals who went missing amid recent junta attacks by air and water in Shwegu Township, Kachin State.

The People’s Defence Forces (PDF) based in the town of Shwegu found the bodies in Wea Ma Gyi village, located about 10 miles to the southeast on the south bank of the Ayeyarwady River. 

The bodies were found after junta forces carried out assaults targeting the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic armed organisation, and other anti-junta fighters active in the area, according to a spokesperson for the PDF.  He said the victims’ identities are still unconfirmed.

“We’re not sure of their personal details and ages yet because locals who may be able to identify them haven’t returned home,” the PDF spokesperson said.

Around 80 junta soldiers were stationed at Wea Ma Gyi for several days last week to provide security for a flotilla of nine military vessels that has been travelling up the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay since July 25. 

Residents of Wea Ma Gyi and other villages on the bank of the Ayeyarwady in Shwegu Township were forced to flee their homes last week as junta forces alternately carried out airstrikes and fired artillery and small arms from boats on the river. 

There were casualties among the local villagers, including a woman in her 50s and a nine-year-old child who were killed in the riverbank village of Zin Bon on August 16, according to a Shwegu Township resident in his 50s. 

“The woman and young child were trying to take shelter when they were killed by a shell,” he said.

The military vessels are now in Bhamo Township, located up the Ayewarwady River from Shwegu. Security in the urban area of Bhamo Township has been tightened and the military has closed several nearby roads including the Myitkyina-Bhamo road.

Junta forces have been known to harm civilians while protecting supply lines and transit routes for reinforcements. Ground forces providing security for the flotilla on the Ayeyarwady have shot locals near the banks, and soldiers manning the boats have fired their weapons indiscriminately from the river. 

Shwegu Township is located between Kachin State and Sagaing Region, both of which have become hotbeds of armed conflict since the 2021 coup. The PDF based in the towns of Shwegu and Myohla, Shwegu Township have formed alliances with the KIA in their fight against the Myanmar military. 

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