Junta troops killed four civilians in an arson attack on six villages in Sagaing’s Indaw Township on the border with Kachin State on Sunday, according to residents and resistance groups.
The victims were named as Ko Tun Naing Win from Nant Thae village, Ko Nay Win from Kun Chaung, Ko Kyaw Lwin from Ma Au Gone, and an unnamed male resident of Shwe Chaung village. All were in their 40s, said locals and resistance groups.
“They were killed near our village and their bodies were buried in the grounds of the monastery,” said a villager from Pein Inn.
The attacks began after some 300 regime soldiers in three columns entered Indaw Township from neighboring Tigyaing Township on Dec. 15.
The next day, a military column torched a restaurant and houses in Jone Jone Ja Ywar Thit village in the north of Indaw, forcing hundreds of residents to flee.
On the same day, a combined force of Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Kachin People’s Defence Force (KPDF) and Indaw People’s Defence Force (IndawPDF) fighters launched attacks on the junta troops.
On December 17, regime soldiers torched Jone Jone Ja Ywar Ma village amid clashes with the KIA/PDF combined force at nearby Nyaung Kone, Jone Jone Ja and Pein Inn villages.
Four days of fighting has left 40 junta soldiers dead and one IndawPDF member wounded in the chest, according to the resistance groups. The junta is yet to issue a statement on the clashes.
Regime troops burned 32 houses in Aouk Lel Pyin village and about 50 in Jone Jone Ja Ywar Thit, Jone Jone Ja Ywar Ma, Ma Au Gone, Pein Inn, and Set Taw Kone villages over three days, according to residents and PDFs. The villages are located on the Mandalay-Myitkyina highway about 30 kilometers south of Indaw town.
“Fighting continued this morning but there were no big clashes today,” said Indaw PDF spokesperson Ko Nyi.
“The wounded member of our group is an 18-year-old comrade shot in the chest on Dec. 16, but he is recovering now.”
Ko Nyi said the PDF had been alerting villagers since December 15 that junta troops had infiltrated the township. About 5,000 residents from 12 villages had fled, he added.
“We know that junta military will just kill civilians and burn down villages, so we are trying our best to protect our people and their property. But as fighting continues, it is not safe yet for the villagers [to return],” said Ko Nyi.