Five-day raid continues as 45,000 flee Myanmar’s Sagaing region

Junta troops killed one civilian and arrested nearly 30.
By RFA Burmese
2023.10.16
Five-day raid continues as 45,000 flee Myanmar’s Sagaing region Residents of Shwebo township fled ahead of junta raids on Oct. 14, 2023.
Khin-U Right Information Group

One local was killed and nearly 45,000 people were displaced during military raids in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, local residents told Radio Free Asia on Monday. 

Junta troops stormed villages across four townships from Thursday until Sunday, detaining nearly 30 people along the way.

Most of the internally displaced are from Khin-U, Shwebo, Pale and Kanbalu townships. 

On Thursday and Friday, five residents remaining in Pale township’s Kyar Si village and Kan Gyi village were captured when junta troops stormed the area, Zaw Htet, a leader of the local people’s administration group, told RFA.

“The villagers told them to flee,” he said, adding that they did not know whether the captured people were still alive. “The junta troops are still in Kyar Si village. Similarly in Kan Gyi, two people were arrested because they did not flee when the troops entered the village. One was shot dead and another was beaten and released.”

Zaw Htet identified the dead man as Chan Thar, in his 40s.

Nobody has been in contact with the three men taken from Kyar Si village and their status is still unknown. 

Troops are continuing to destroy villages in Pale township, said Nan Win, a member of the township’s People’s Defense Force. He added that this assault was more violent than ones previously carried out in the township and that troops were still stationed in two villages.

Soldiers set up a blockade in Chin Pyit village trapping nearly 30 residents, locals said. The number of women and children is still unknown, as the army has not allowed anyone to enter the village since Thursday.

The next morning, 500 soldiers raided two more villages, forcing over 15,000 residents to flee. 

One woman told RFA the army was shooting people along the route. 

“It seems like they will continue to raid Nyan Inn village,” she said, requesting anonymity to protect herself. “The people outside the village were chased and shot at with guns and shelled with heavy weapons. The entire village was forced to flee because they were afraid of the [troops].”

The convoy was divided into groups to carry out attacks on more villages in Khin-U and Shwebo townships on Saturday, residents said.

Sagaing.jpg
Residents of Khin-U township fled ahead of army raids on villages on Oct. 15, 2023. Credit: Ko Lu Chaw

A group of over 100 soldiers raided four villages, according to the residents.

A Khin-U resident who did not want to be named for security reasons told RFA that he had to flee when he heard the convoy was on its way.

“I was so worried about the heavy rain and had to run, despite bad communication,” he said. “I had to flee ahead as soon as I heard because I was worried that I would be too delayed by the muddy roads to escape.”

On Sunday, nearly 30 civilians were arrested when the army raided Tha Yet Pin Wun village and nearby forests in Shwebo township, said an official of Khin-U Special Force Organization.

“When the army left the village they [civilians] were trapped because they thought that the convoy would not come to the forest where they were fleeing,” the official said. “We got the information that mothers … were among the arrested. We don’t know who or how many were arrested. But the junta council troops captured them to use as human shields.”

Local defense forces attacked the group entering Khin-U township using landmines, leading to speculation that villagers were held hostage in retaliation, a local defense forces official told RFA, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. 

RFA called Sai Naing Naing Kyaw, the junta spokesperson, seeking comment on the raids, but he did not reply by the time of publication. 

On Oct. 5 and 6, a raid in Sagaing’s Pale and Salingyi townships left one man dead, 10 people in police custody, and thousands displaced. 

More than 800,000 people in Sagaing region have been forced to flee their homes due to violence since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup,, according to the United Nations.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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