Civilians Flee as Myanmar Junta Fights to Secure Strategic Town Near Capital

By The Irrawaddy 17 February 2022

An estimated 28,000 southern Shan State civilians have fled Mobye town due to street fighting between Myanmar’s regime and resistance groups.

On early Tuesday, many military vehicles, including armoured vehicles, carrying over 200 reinforcements deployed across Mobye, randomly shooting at civilian housing, according to residents.

Fighting between regime forces and several people’s defense forces (PDFs) and the Karenni National Resistance Forces from Pekon Township in Shan State and neighboring Demoso and Loikaw townships in Kayah State began on Wednesday morning, according to the Mobye PDF, which was involved in the fighting.

On Wednesday clashes, at least seven regime troops were killed and two resistance fighters suffered minor injuries. A civilian house was flattened by junta artillery, resistance groups claimed.

Photos showed a burning house and others damaged by explosives.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.

Mobye has more than 28,000 residents, according to the General Administration Department.

The town is now largely deserted since resistance groups asked residents to leave.

“Nearly the whole town has fled since regime forces arrived. We are also trying to evacuate any trapped civilians,” a charity worker of the Mobye Rescue Team told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

A medic treats a resistance fighter who was injured by regime forces in Mobye, Shan State, on Wednesday. / MPRT

Fighting continued on Thursday.

A woman resident was seriously injured in her leg by junta artillery and a resistance fighter was killed in the clash, according to the charity.

Six civilians, including a child, were injured by regime bombardments, it said.

A Mobye PDF representative told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “There were military casualties. The junta cut off all internet access this morning.”

Division 66 is trying to control the whole town, according to the PDF.

Resistance groups urged civilians to avoid the roads which are linked to Mobye.

Mobye PDF told The Irrawaddy that the heavy deployment points to the township’s strategic importance because of its proximity to Naypyitaw, where the junta leaders live.

More than 4,000 residents from Mobye and Pekon townships fled in early November last year when the junta stepped up indiscriminate attacks on resistance forces and civilians.

PDF attacks

At least 21 regime forces were reportedly killed when PDFs attacked regime forces in Chin State, Magwe and Sagaing regions and Naypyitaw on Wednesday and Thursday.

Naypyitaw PDF claimed to have killed at least three regime personnel early on Thursday with a bomb attack on a sentry outpost.

After attacking regime-linked offices and buildings in the capital in recent days, three PDFs operating in Naypyitaw warned all junta-appointed administrators to resign.

On Wednesday evening, the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, and Gangaw Township in Magwe Region and the Hakha CDF raided regime forces stationed at Yangyi Aung village in the south of Kale Township.

During an hour of fighting six regime forces were killed and no resistance injuries occurred, claimed the CDF.

The regime forces occupied the village last week, displacing villagers.

Demoso PDF and Karenni Generation-Z from Kayah State joined the attacks on regime forces in Mobye, Shan State, on Wednesday. / KGZ Fighter

At least five regime personnel were killed when resistance forces attacked the village at the weekend. Troops torched at least eight houses in the village, according to resistance forces.

On Wednesday afternoon, a soldier was killed when Matupi CDF raided junta-occupied Htalbwe village on the Matupi-Paletwa highway in Matupi Township, Chin State.

A Htalbwe villager was reportedly seriously injured by a landmine planted by regime forces.

Pauk PDF claimed to have killed two pro-junta militia members and injured another when they raided Pyu Saw Htee militia leaders’ homes. The militia is armed and trained by the military. The raid took place in Kokkosu village, Pauk Township in Magwe Region on Wednesday morning.

Three homemade firearms were seized, said Pauk PDF.

The PDF’s raid was in response to the killing of a Kokkosu villager and destruction of about 20 houses by the Pyu Saw Htee militia last month, said Pauk PDF.

Villagers have fled amid the militia’s alleged threats to kill anyone who supports the PDFs.

Nat Taung Nagar, a Sagaing resistance group, said six regime motorbikes were ambushed in Shwebo Township on Wednesday evening.

The group estimated that five troops were killed as six mines exploded.

The group ambushed six regime troops and Phu Saw Htee militia members using three mines after they burned down sugar cane fields.

There were four militia casualties and no resistance injuries, said Nat Taung Nagar.

A video shows troops on motorbikes hit by blasts.

The regime is facing intense attacks from PDFs and many ethnic armed groups across the country.

You may also like these stories:

Over 4,500 Homes Torched by Myanmar Junta Forces Since Coup

Veteran Peace Activist Faces Myanmar Junta Charge Over 2015 Ceasefire Deal

Regime Soldiers and Pro-Junta Militia Reportedly Killed in Upper Myanmar Raids