Thousands Flee as Myanmar Regime Resumes Raiding Resistance Groups

By The Irrawaddy 25 November 2021

Several thousand people in Kayah State in southeastern Myanmar have been forced to flee their villages after regime forces renewed their raids against civilian resistance groups.

Since November 17, Myanmar military reinforcements have randomly bombarded villages along the Demoso-Loikaw Highway, forcing several thousand residents to flee from around 30 villages between Demoso and Loikaw, the Kayah State capital, according to the Demoso command of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF).

The junta shelling follows clashes on November 11 between regime troops and the combined forces of the KNDF and the Karenni Army (KA), the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party, which resulted in the deaths of 20 junta soldiers and one civilian resistance fighter.

KNDF sources said they are still trying to ascertain the number of displaced civilians in Demoso Township.

Eight junta soldiers and four civilian resistance fighters have been killed in a series of firefights between November 18 and 25.

On early Thursday morning, an intense firefight between military regime forces and the KNDF broke out at Six Miles Village in Demoso Township after two military columns from Loikaw and Demoso raided the village.

During the clash, junta artillery based in Loikaw shelled the village, according to the KNDF.

“Four of our comrades were killed in the shootout. Some civilian homes were destroyed by junta shelling,” a KNDF official told The Irrawaddy.

After the battle, regime forces reportedly detained villagers and used them as human shields to travel ahead of them as they left the village.

On Tuesday, four clashes between junta soldiers and a combined KNDF and KA force took place at Daw Poese and Six Miles villages and in residential wards of Loikaw and Demoso.

During the battles, five junta troops were killed and seven others were injured. One resistance fighter suffered minor injuries.

Another two junta soldiers died and one civilian fighter was injured on Monday in three clashes between the Myanmar military and a combined KNDF and KA force also at Daw Poese and Six Miles villages.

On November 18, the Karenni combined force ambushed a military convoy of 20 vehicles near Six Miles Village.

A regime soldier died in the subsequent shootout, while two civilians were killed and houses in the village were torched.

Armed resistance to military rule in Kayah State began in late May, following the regime’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful anti-coup demonstrations across Myanmar.

Regime forces have continued their atrocities, including the arbitrary killing of civilians, using civilians as human shields, bombarding residential areas, looting and burning houses, especially in Kayah, Shan and Chin states and Sagaing and Magwe regions.

“The junta that has unfairly grabbed power from the elected government and will continue with its atrocities in Kayah State. But we [Karenni resistance forces] are trying our best to protect people from the junta’s atrocities and to fight back against the military,” a KNDF spokesperson told The Irrawaddy.

Currently, junta troops are facing increasingly intense attacks from People’s Defense Forces and ethnic armed groups across the country.

As of Wednesday, 1,291 people have been slain by regime forces during their crackdowns, raids, arrests and interrogations, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that records deaths and arrests since the junta’s February 1 coup.

Another 10,452 people, including elected government leaders, have been arrested by the regime.

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