Villagers prepare to flee as military rampage in Magway Region continues

Residents of 10 villages in Magway’s Region’s Pauk Township were getting ready to leave their homes on Monday ahead of the expected arrival of junta troops from neighbouring Myaing Township.

The villages, located in both the northern and southern parts of Pauk Township, had already been subjected to four days of raids from Thursday until Sunday.

Around 100 soldiers and 30 members of the pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militia swept through the villages last week, looting and damaging the homes of suspected resistance fighters and their families and forcing 30,000 villagers to flee, local sources told Myanmar Now.

Those who returned to assess the damage were now preparing to flee again amid rumours that another military column would be arriving from Myaing in the coming days.

“We keep hearing that more of them are coming, so we’re packing now,” said a 50-year-old woman from Zee Taw, one of the affected villages.

The villages that were raided last week include Boet Mei, Taung Bet, Lel Yar and Thit Nyi Naung in the southern part of Pauk Township and Lel Oh and Thayet Kaing in the north, sources said.

“Boet Mei was completely trashed. They took everything of value,” said a local woman who asked to remain anonymous.

According to the woman, items stolen from Boet Mei were floated downstream to Pin Htaung, where the soldiers are stationed.

While no arrests were reported in Boet Mei, many residents of Taung Bet were taken into custody, the woman added.

“So many people were arrested in Taung Bet, including elderly people who were helping with a funeral. They took them and held them at the monastery. The female detainees were released that evening, but the men are still being detained,” she said.

The houses of three families suspected of having ties to the People’s Defence Force (PDF) were also sealed, she added.

Meanwhile, there were also reports that a man and two cows were shot in the village of Lel Yar on Thursday. The man has not been seen since, and the two cows were later found dead.

Soldiers also killed a cow and vandalized property in Thit Nyi Naung, according to a resident. 

“They killed and ate a cow and destroyed a 12-wheeled truck parked at the monastery. They also destroyed the homes of some known PDF leaders and even ripped their clothes with knives,” said a local man.

A home owned by a regime opponent in Boet Mei is seen after it was ransacked by junta troops on January 21 (Supplied)

A member of the Magway PDF said the troops also raided villages in northern Pauk Township, where they targeted oil wells operated by local residents.

“They burned the wells in Lel Oh and Thayet Kan because the people living there wouldn’t pay them the ‘taxes’ they demanded,” he said.

The PDF member said that no counterattack was planned at the moment because resistance forces in the area had been forced to go into hiding.

“Judging from the fact that they are sending massive columns of soldiers, it looks like they are planning a major assault,” he said.

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