Some 10,000 Villagers Flee Fighting in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region

By The Irrawaddy 29 July 2021

Around 10,000 locals have been forced to flee their homes in Yinmarbin Township, Sagaing Region, due to attacks by junta forces, said residents who are now hiding in nearby forests.

At least five villages have emptied and their inhabitants are hiding in forests, said a Yinmarbin resident who is helping the displaced villagers. Yinmarbin lies to the west of Monywa, the capital of Sagaing Region in central Myanmar. The Chindwin River separates the two towns.

“They dare not stay in the villages. Junta troops searched for the PDF [People’s Defense Force] in Kyaukpyoke Village on Monday, and they ransacked the houses,” the resident told The Irrawaddy.

Junta troops came into Yinmarbin in three columns, said another resident. “They raided villages and killed cows and chicken for food. It was like a robbery.”

Villagers are having trouble hiding in the forest due to rain. And many could not bring along necessities as they fled their homes quickly, said another resident helping the displaced villagers.

A house ransacked by junta troops in Yinmarbin / CJ

“They have a lot of difficulties. Some need medicines. For the time being, we are cooking for them,” she said.

Around 150 junta troops from divisions 33, 44 and 99 are deployed in three villages in a triangle formation. They have changed into civilian clothes and are hunting local resistance fighters, said residents.

A tactical commander of the Myanmar military has been leading the operations from Aung Zeya new town, a hilly neighborhood of war veterans near the villages.

Junta troops sailed down the Chindwin River on Saturday and marched to the border of Kani and Yinmarbin townships in two columns. Another column arrived via the Monywa-Kale Road.

PDF fighters from Yinmarbin, Kani and Monywa, who only have rudimentary hunting rifles and homemade guns, are fighting the junta troops. Some PDF troops from Pale and Myaing townships are assisting them.

PDF fighters ambushed junta troops in a forest in Yinmarbin on Sunday. The fighting was fierce and lasted for the whole day, said a resident.

A house ransacked by junta troops in Yinmarbin / CJ

The following day, PDF fighters ambushed another junta column marching to Kyaukpyoke Village. Five PDF fighters were killed, two injured and two others went missing when the junta responded with shelling, a Monywa PDF member said on Tuesday.

Junta troops and PDF fighters also clashed near Zepintwin Village on the border of Yinmarbin and Kani townships on Monday. Five junta troops died and three PDF fighters were injured, said a source close to the PDF. The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the report.

After the fighting PDF fighters reported finding two slain bodies of males, believed to be in their 70s and buried with their hands tied behind their backs, near Zepintwin Village.

There has been no new clash since Tuesday, but junta troops are deployed in villages and searching for PDF fighters. Residents are thus unable to return to their homes.

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