Burma

1,000 Flee Myanmar Junta Artillery Strikes

By The Irrawaddy 26 October 2021

Around 1,000 residents of southern Shan State were forced to flee their homes in the town of Mobye on Sunday, after the Myanmar military launched artillery strikes following an intense firefight with civilian resistance forces, according to the Mobye Rescue Team.

A woman was killed by the artillery fire and two young children injured, among other civilian casualties.

The bombardment of Mobye came after at least 10 junta soldiers were killed early Sunday morning, when a combined group of civilian fighters from the Mobye People’s Defense Force (M-PDF) and the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force ambushed five military vehicles carrying around 50 junta soldiers at 7am at the entrance to Mobye Town in Pekon Township, Shan State.

Regime troops from Battalion 422, which is based outside the town, responded by arbitrarily firing over ten artillery shells at residential areas of Mobye.

A 44-year-old woman was killed by the artillery strikes and five civilians, including a three-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy, were injured, according to M-PDF and the Mobye Rescue Team.

A three-year-old girl injured in the arm by junta artillery strikes on Mobye on Sunday morning./ Photo: Mobye Rescue Team.

Two of the injured civilians are in critical condition. All are being treated in a safe place, a member of the Mobye Rescue Team told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

Some 1,000 residents from the areas of the town hit by artillery fire fled into the forest or to join their relatives in nearby villages and townships. Despite the fighting stopping, none of the people who fled have returned home yet, according to a local resident speaking on Tuesday.

Mobye’s remaining population of around 24,000 people are concerned about the potential for future clashes due to tensions running high between junta troops and civilian resistance groups. But most residents are staying in the town, as they have to harvest crops from their farms in the coming weeks.

In late May, around three-quarters of Mobye’s population had to escape the town for a month following intense firefights between military regime soldiers and civilian fighters in Pekon Township and townships in neighboring Kayah State.

A month later in June, junta troops destroyed supplies of rice and medicine that were intended for over 3,000 internally displaced people in Pekon. They had also been forced to leave their homes after heavy clashes in the surrounding area.

Regime forces bombarded the mountain-top town of Thantlang in Chin State in late September, forcing the entire population of around 9,000 residents to flee. The artillery strikes destroyed 19 houses in the town and followed clashes between junta soldiers and ethnic Chin resistance forces that left the regime side with some 30 casualties.

Military regime troops also continue to commit atrocities, including raiding and burning down villages and arbitrarily killing civilians, in Myanmar’s most restive regions such as Sagaing and Magwe and Chin and Kayah States.

At the same time, with the exception of Rakhine State, junta forces nationwide are facing an increasing number of attacks from PDFs and ethnic armed groups, including the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the armed wings of the Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party.


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