Hundreds of Villagers Flee After Myanmar Military Raid in Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 18 April 2021

Villagers in Kani Township, Sagaing Region, say they are fleeing their homes after soldiers raided Chaungma village in the township on Sunday afternoon, following a roadside shootout on the Monywa-Kalewa highway on Saturday night.

Clashes between the resistance and junta forces have been reported in villages near Chaungma in recent days.

Several residents told The Irrawaddy, on condition of anonymity, that the arrival of around 15 military trucks on Sunday led to Chaungma – about 20km from Kani – and at least six other villages being evacuated.

“Soldiers are stationed in Chaungma and looking for activists. Villagers said the soldiers raided shops, took people’s rice and killed chickens for food. Chaungma, which has more than 2,000 people, and others from six or seven other villages are fleeing. No one dares to go back,” said a Kani resident.

On Saturday evening, two civilians were killed in a shootout with the military in Taungtwin Chaung on the Monywa-Kalewa road.

A Kani resident told The Irrawaddy: “One man was shot dead as they resisted military troops on the Monywa-Kalewa highway near the border of Kani and Mingin townships. Another man was detained for having traditional firearms when junta forces found him. He was tied up and taken away. We heard he died during torture.”

A young man, who was hit in the thigh, was detained by the junta’s forces.

Villagers used homemade firearms to opposed the arrival of some 60 soldiers in three trucks at Taungtwin Chaung on Saturday afternoon.

There were unconfirmed reports of police and military casualties.

Another shootout occurred on Sunday.

“We heard the people’s protection forces are fighting again this [Sunday] afternoon on the Monywa-Kalewa road [about 70km from Kani] and the military is using artillery,” said the resident.

Kani, Yinmabin, Kale and Tamu townships in the region have seen villagers fighting the junta’s forces with improvised weapons, including homemade rifles, air guns and grenades. The residents say the shootouts are to block junta reinforcements.

On Thursday, at least six civilians were shot dead in Kani during a shootout with a protection group formed by anti-regime protesters. The next day, military security was tightened on Kani’s main roads, where around 100 junta personnel have been stationed.

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