Junta troops torched six villages in Taze, Sagaing Region on Wednesday, according to locals. Some 60 houses were razed in junta attacks that also forced residents from at least 16 villages to flee.
“They started torching houses in Thabyay Yin Village. They also torched a rice mill and some houses in Thit Yar Pin Village. We estimate that some 60 houses were torched in six villages,” a People’s Defense Force (PDF) fighter from Ye-U told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.
Some 120 junta troops from Light Infantry Battalion 368 and junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militias have been raiding western Taze since October 15.
“It had been months since junta troops last attacked villages in the west of Taze. They had only been raiding villages in the north and east of the township. But they came to the west on October 15 to carry out sort of area clearance operations,” said a PDF fighter from Taze.
Junta troops also killed a cow for food during Wednesday’s raid, according to Taze News.
The PDF fighter from Ye-U said: “Most of the houses torched had ties to PDF fighters. Junta troops torched those houses after being directed by informants who are local residents.”
Villagers said they fled out of fear of being abducted, killed, or used as human shields – crimes junta troops have routinely committed in raids on villages.
One displaced villager from Ywa Thit Village said: “Once they raid a nearby village, we must flee because they can also enter our village. We are currently taking shelter at other villages and monasteries. Host villagers and PDFs supply food for us. We will return to our village once junta troops leave.”
One resident from Thabyay Yin said: “We are staying in the forest for now. Other villagers have fled to their relatives and some into the forest. It is not okay for us to flee whenever they come.”
Local resistance groups attacked a junta column on Wednesday with mines, triggering a firefight that lasted for over 30 minutes and reportedly left several regime soldiers dead. Resistance fighters also attacked a local police station, resulting in more casualties.
One Taze PDF fighter said: “We clashed with them near Kan Kalay Kon village. Some eight junta soldiers were killed in the fighting. We also raided Kan Htoo Ma police station. Three constables were killed and the police station chief was also injured.”
The Irrawaddy could not independently verify junta casualties.
Junta troops also killed a 26-year-old man from Wa Ya Nge Village in Taze on Monday. Locals said the victim was a civilian, not a PDF fighter.
Meanwhile a 72-year-old woman from Kayan Chan Village died of exhaustion while fleeing a junta raid. Regime troops remained at Kan Htoo Ma Village on Thursday.
As of October 10, there were nearly 1.4 million internally displaced people across Myanmar, most of whom (989,400) have been displaced since last year’s military coup. Sagaing Region has been hardest hit with more than 500,000 people fleeing the fighting, according to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).