Myanmar Junta Expands Kayah Terror Campaign With Troops, Gunships and Kidnap   

By Hein Htoo Zan 13 March 2023

Junta troops have expanded their campaign eastwards in Demoso Township, Kayah State by attacking villages with helicopter gunships and kidnapping residents, according to locals.

Regime forces launched three airstrikes on Daw Thae village, Daw Kalaw Du village tract at around 5 pm on Saturday, according to residents and the Karenni Military Information Center (KMIC).

Junta columns began raiding eastern Demoso Township last Tuesday with around 200 troops, forcing 5,000 residents to flee. They have also seized and detained at least 11 villagers in the area, said KMIC spokesperson Khun Nyay Reh. The KMIC is the information unit of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and its Karenni Army military wing.

“At around 6 am in the morning of March 10, junta columns clashed with our allied forces and suffered at least 14 casualties,” he said. The junta retaliated by sending Mi-35 helicopter gunships to bomb the nearby village of Daw Thae, he added.

The Russian-made aircraft dropped three bombs and attacked the village with machine gun, according to the KMIC.

Junta troops are now raiding east Demoso villages frequently, terrorizing residents as well as civilians who are seeking shelter after fleeing earlier attacks by troops in the sets of the township.

“Internally displaced people from western villages were taking shelter in the eastern villages, but as the junta’s military columns have arrived in these areas, it is really difficult for them to seek another place to move again,” said a Karenni rescue team member.

She said local residents are suffering shortages of water, medicine, and places to stay. Potential for seasonal disease or diseases caused by lack of clean water was a growing concern, she added.

Family members of the 11 people detained by junta troops in Daw Ta Ma Gyi village are concerned for their lives.

“When the troops came into our village, they arrested everyone they saw in farms or gardens. At first, they arrested 14 and took them away. The next day, they released two children and a woman,” said a resident of Daw Ta Ma Gyi village.

She said that the 11 others seized, including her brother, remain in detention and no one knows where they are or whether they are still alive.

The number of residents displaced in eastern Demoso township alone has exceeded 15,000 as the junta escalates its campaign in Kayah State. Residents and IDPs fear the situation will get worse if the junta deploys more airstrikes in coming weeks. As well as ground assaults and airstrikes, regime troops are also pounding the township with artillery.

On Sunday, the junta’s Military Operation Command (MOC) No. 7, based in Phekon Township on the border between Shan and Kayah State, fired three shells into La Ei village in the west of the township. No injuries were reported.