Myanmar Junta Forces Scour Forests in Search of Civilian Resistance

By The Irrawaddy 10 May 2021

About 23 villagers, including 14 civilian resistance force members, were arrested Monday after the junta’s troops scoured the forests in Sagaing Region’s Kani Township.

Among several townships in Sagaing, Magwe regions and Chin states resisting against the military regime, Kani has been one of the most prominent.

Civilians there have conducted a series of defense actions against the junta’s forces since April 2, taking up homemade percussion lock firearms to do battle. Percussion lock firearms use technology dating back to the early 19th century.

On Thursday and Friday, about eight shootouts occurred across the township when civilian resistance forces attacked the juntas’ troops travelling through the area both on land and on the Chindwin River.

In the shootouts, an estimated 16 military troops were killed. Nearly 13,000 villagers from at least two-dozen villages in the township have been hiding in nearby forests in fear of raids by the junta’s troops.

After facing the growing civilian resistance, the reinforced junta troops have been conducting not only raids on villages but have also been scouring the forests, using drones and forced guides to uncover the civilian resistance forces.

On Monday morning, about 80 military troops arrested about nine villagers from Thaminchan, Aung Mingalar and Minma villages who had been hiding in the nearby forests, according to a member of Kani’s civilian resistance force.

Fleeing villagers of Kani take temporary shelter in nearby forests due to the junta’s raids after a series of shootouts.

After forcing arrested villagers to act as a guide, the troops also raided the forest of Hman Taung Mountain and arrested 14 members of civilian resistance forces who had been hiding.

Monday afternoon, all of those who had been detained were sent to Monywa of Sagaing Region, according to local residents.

A member of township’s resistance force said that about 17 military vehicles loaded with junta troops from Monywa and river boats carrying 100 junta troops from upper Sagaing Region were on their way to Kani on Monday afternoon to conduct further crackdowns on the civilian resistance forces.

“The main thing we need is proper firearms and ammunitions. Our percussion lock firearms do not work well in the shootouts,” said the member of the civilian assistance forces.

In the Friday shootouts, military troops used heavy explosives, making use of drones to locate the civilian forces in the forests. In a Friday shootout at Kyauklonegyi Mountain in Kani, about eight military troops were killed and several were wounded, while seven villagers fighting against them were killed.

In a press conference on Friday concerning the armed resistance in Chin State and Sagaing Region, the military regime said that it will not tolerate any armed resistance.

On that day, the National Unity Government, its parliamentary committee and their offshoot civilian defense forces were branded as “terrorist groups” by the military regime, which accused them of incitement against the junta.

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