Nine Civilians Killed by Regime Airstrikes in Upper Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 20 December 2021

Nine civilians including two resistance fighters were killed by a regime airstrike involving five aircraft on a village in Magwe Region last Friday.

Two helicopter gunships attacked Hnan Khar Village in Gangaw Township on Friday afternoon using machine-guns, while around 100 junta soldiers were airlifted into the village by two other choppers, according to Gangaw-People’s Defense Force (PDF).

Meanwhile, a military jet fighter was also circling above the village.

The attack came as several leaders of local PDFs were holding a meeting at the village hall to discuss taking action against illegal logging and drug dealing in the area, a Gangaw-PDF leader told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Over 3,500 villagers fled their homes due to the airstrike, while hundreds of other people were trapped in the village.

Two civilian resistance fighters were killed in a firefight with the regime forces raiding the village. Two Hnan Khar villagers were also killed by gunshots to their heads after being detained and tied up by junta soldiers. They were arrested while working their fields and tending cattle outside the village.

Gangaw-PDF’s leader, who is from Hnan Khar Village, said that a vehicle carrying eight people traveling from Gangaw was also attacked by regime forces while it was passing through Hnan Khar Village.

Five of the vehicle’s passengers were killed in the attack. During the raid on the village, three villagers were detained, while one villager was beaten. Myanmar military soldiers occupied the village for two days before leaving on Sunday, after burning down the house of a PDF leader and refugee camps near the village, according to locals.

A 50-year-old Hnan Khar villager suffering from health problems also collapsed and died on Sunday, after hearing a rumor that junta gunships were planning to return to the village to launch more airstrikes, according to Gangaw-PDF.

Junta-controlled state media stated on Friday that the village was raided after regime forces were tipped off that PDF members would be holding a meeting there.

The military regime claimed to have seized the bodies of six dead PDF members, as well as weapons, during the raid.

A villager told The Irrawaddy that more than 60 houses had been burned down during a total of four raids on the village in the last months.

“They [junta forces] treated the village as a battlefield. These are human rights violations. We want the National Unity Government to arm us with modern firearms,” a Gangaw-PDF leader said.

Also in Gangaw Township, 12 junta soldiers were killed on Sunday morning when Gangaw-PDF ambushed them with landmines as regime troops traveled from Hnan Khar Village to Myintha Village, Gangaw-PDF claimed.

After the ambush, angry junta soldiers responded by burning down a house in Myintha Village.

The military regime has frequently used helicopter gunships and jet fighters to attack PDFs in Sagaing and Magwe regions and Chin, Kayah and Shan states. The PDFs are mostly armed with old-fashioned or homemade weapons.

Regime forces are facing an increasing number of attacks from PDFs and ethnic armed groups across the country.

Meanwhile, the regime’s atrocities continue, including the arbitrary killing of civilians, burning people alive, using detained civilians as human shields, bombarding residential areas, looting and burning houses and committing acts of sexual violence.

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