Myanmar Junta Jets Bomb Civilian Resistance Fighters in Sagaing Region

By The Irrawaddy 1 June 2021

Military regime fighters bombed villages in Katha Township, Sagaing Region on Monday evening, a day after the Katha People’s Defense Force (PDF) ambushed a convoy of junta soldiers in the area.

“They dropped two bombs in Moetargyi and Moetarlay villages on Monday,” said the information officer of the Katha PDF. The civilian resistance fighters attacked a military convoy in Moetargyi village-tract, near the Katha-Bhamo road, on Sunday.

One of the bombs landed in the compound of a Buddhist monastery in Moetarlay village, but no casualties have been reported so far.

On Sunday, the Kachin State-based ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) joined the fighting between the Katha PDF and junta troops in Moetargyi village-tract.

Eight regime soldiers were killed and 13 seriously injured, while five civilian resistance fighters were killed and one was captured by the military during the fighting, according to the Katha PDF.

“We opened fire on the military as they came in two vehicles. It was difficult as we only had old firearms and rudimentary hunting rifles,” said the Katha PDF information officer.

“We asked the KIA for reinforcements after we had fought for 45 minutes. A local platoon from KIA Brigade 8 came and helped us. We would have suffered without the help of KIA Brigade 8,” he added.

The Katha PDF has been operating independently and has not yet received any weapons from the National Unity Government, a shadow government formed to rival the military regime, said the information officer.

KIA forces are active in Shwegu and Mohnyin townships in Kachin State and Mabein in northern Shan State, all of which border Katha.

The Katha PDF attacked the regime forces because junta reinforcements have arrived in the area and are combing Katha for anti-regime activists and deploying troops in villages along Katha-Bhamo road, said the Katha PDF officer. Military informants are also giving the names of local youths who have been receiving military training from the KIA.

“We heard gunfire. We dare not go to Katha. There are military checkpoints on the way and there are also informants monitoring our activities,” said a local resident who lives near the Katha-Bhamo road.

The KIA’s Brigade 8 has been engaged in intense fighting with junta troops in Bhamo Township for the last two months.

Junta troops have been trying to retake control of the Alaw Bum base near the border with China in Bhamo since the KIA captured the outpost in late March. The regime has used fighter and helicopter airstrikes against the KIA, but has suffered heavy casualties.

The KIA has attacked military and police outposts in Momauk and Shwegu townships as a preemptive measure to hamper military offensives.

Regime food convoys being shipped from Katha to Bhamo along the Ayeyarwady River were also attacked by the KIA on May 11 and May 21.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact the KIA information department for a comment on the May 30 fighting in Katha.

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