10 Myanmar Villagers Seized as Hostages by Junta Troops, Locals Say

By The Irrawaddy 26 May 2022

The fate of at least 10 civilians, including a 5-year-old child, arrested by junta troops during a raid in Sagaing’s Myinmu Township on Tuesday was still unknown Thursday.

The civilians from Inn Ma and Gone Nyin Sait villages were arrested while hiding in a nearby forest. Around 40 soldiers advanced to Inn Ma Village and destroyed the houses there before moving into the forest after being attacked by local resistance forces using land mines.

“They seized the civilians who were hiding in the forest. My little niece, hiding with her parents, was taken by the soldiers,” said an Inn Ma resident who is a relative of the child.

Locals couldn’t verify the exact number of hostages taken by the military but said almost all of the arrested civilians are from Inn Ma and most are men.

As the soldiers searched the forest, they engaged in clashes with members of the Myinmu People’s Defense Force (PDF), who were trying to protect the civilians. Two members of the force were killed in the clashes.

The child’s uncle said, “We heard the arrested villagers are at Myinmu Police Station. But we don’t know for sure and do not dare to contact them. We are afraid of the soldiers.”

During the raid on Inn Ma, regime soldiers used vehicles to take away bags of rice, bottles of oil, other foodstuffs and shoes from the village grocery store.

Ko Eagle, the head of the Myinmu PDF, said the military troops took the civilians hostage to use as human shields during clashes.

The group said in a statement that it conducted three mine attacks against junta forces on Tuesday, killing at least 10 soldiers.

First, they attacked military vehicles by detonating a land mine on the entrance road into Kan Phyar Village early in the morning, damaging a car. The vehicles were on the way to support the troops raiding Inn Ma.

In the afternoon, two soldiers were killed during a clash between local resistance forces and junta troops between Gone Nyin Sait and Kan Phyar villages.

Some 15 minutes after the attack, the Myinmu PDF said, around nine soldiers were killed during a mine ambush near Kan Phyar.

“The soldiers were walking back through our minefield. Nine soldiers were taken to hospital and locals told us on Wednesday that the soldiers died at the hospital,” Ko Eagle said.

Inn Ma and Gone Nyin Sait villages have nearly 400 houses each and are located about 3.2 km, or 2 miles, apart. Residents of these and other nearby villages fled their homes.

Myinmu Township, a stronghold of resistance activity in Sagaing Region, borders Chaung-U, Monywa and Ayadaw townships.

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