Myanmar junta forces have allegedly been attacking villages in the east of Wetlet Township in Sagaing Region since Saturday, killing at least 12 civilians and 20 resistance fighters by Tuesday.
Thousands of villagers have fled their homes, according to residents.
“We are scattered and in chaos because of airstrikes. We are trying to rescue the villagers,” said Captain Kyin Ko of Wetlet People’s Defense Force (PDF) on Tuesday.
He said at least 12 civilians were killed by troops in Hpa Yar Kone, Nay Pu Kone, Shi Ma Kar and Ngar Pat Chaung villages within four days with more deaths expected to be reported.
On Saturday two junta jet fighters and two Mi-35 helicopters attacked a PDF training camp near Hpa Yar Kone and Nay Pu Kone villages in the east of the township.
On Friday the civilian National Unity Government said resistance groups had anti-aircraft weapons which would target junta planes and helicopters.
An hourlong airstrike on Saturday left at least 12 PDF members dead and an estimated 100 soldiers were dropped by helicopters.
After an hour’s fighting the resistance groups fell back.
Before raiding Nay Pu Kone village, troops occupied the resistance training camp and seized arms and dynamite worth an estimated 35 million kyats, according to resistance groups.
The junta attacked Nay Pu Kone with two jet fighters and two Mi-35s and dropped troops from Mi-17 helicopters, according to a resident called Ko Nyo.
They torched houses, killed villagers and arrested at least 20 others. They were taken to Du Tin hill between Hpa Yar Kone and Shi Ma Kar villages where numerous junta troops are deployed in a stronghold.
“This afternoon we found another three bodies near Du Tin. It is a tragedy to see civilians fleeing and we have lost many of our comrades,” said Phyoe Zaw Oo of Wetlet PDF on Tuesday.
He said junta jets were still flying on Tuesday afternoon but not firing. Heavy fighting is occurring with ground troops.
Ko Shwe Bo, a Hpa Yar Kone villager, who is sheltering with a relative, said he and his mother fled their house on Saturday on his motorcycle amid airstrikes.
“We have lost everything. This is the worst thing ever I have experienced,” he said. His aunt and a cousin who was in the PDF were recently killed by junta troops.
The worst-hit village is Nay Pu Kone, whose 1,000 residents have fled their homes.
Around 23,000 people in the area are estimated to have been displaced in four days.
Sagaing Region is an anti-regime stronghold.
The United Nations has reported that more than 545,000 people have been displaced in Sagaing Region since the coup last year.