More than 30,000 residents from about 30 villages in Pauk Township, Magwe Region, have fled their homes due to junta raids, according to villagers.
Hundreds of soldiers in two detachments began raiding villages and scouring forests in search of civilian resistance fighters in the south of the township last week.
At least 11 junta soldiers and police heading to Win Chone and Kin Ma villages were killed and many others injured by resistance landmines on August 27 and 29, according to the Pauk People’s Defense Force (PDF).
Funerals for four personnel, including a police officer, were held at Pauk’s cemetery, the Pauk PDF leader said.
On Tuesday morning, junta forces used artillery on Wun Chone village. Troops burned down Kin Ma village in June, according to villagers.
A Kin Ma villager told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that junta troops opened fire in forests where residents were in hiding.
On Wednesday morning, more than 130 junta soldiers deployed at the Kin Ma monastery left the village after reportedly burning possessions abandoned by villagers before they fled.
Junta troops were allegedly heading to Wun Chone village, where about 60 troops – including members of the Pyu-Saw-Htee militia who are trained and armed by the junta – are already based, according to residents.
“We couldn’t wait while junta atrocities are being carried out. Everyone from our village depends on donations after the entire village was burned down by junta forces. Now we can’t make a living,” a fleeing villager told The Irrawaddy.
A Wun Chone villager was wounded in the thigh on Tuesday when junta forces used explosives in forests where villagers were hiding, according to the PDF leader.
The villager cannot receive medical care because of tightened junta security, the leader said.
A fleeing Wun Chone villager told The Irrawaddy that Wun Chone and Kin Ma were targeted because the junta sees them as anti-regime strongholds.
Armed resistance began in late March in response to lethal violence used against peaceful protesters and has spread across all Myanmar, except Rakhine State.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians, including in Kachin, Chin, Shan, Karen and Kayah states and Magwe, Mandalay, Yangon and Sagaing regions, have fled their homes to avoid junta raids.
By Tuesday, 1,040 people have been killed by junta forces during crackdowns, raids, arrests, interrogations and random shootings, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
More than 7,700 people, including elected government leaders, have been arrested by the junta or face arrest warrants.
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