Thousands Flee as Myanmar Junta Planes Bomb Kachin Villages

By The Irrawaddy 27 April 2021

The Myanmar military has been conducting frequent airstrikes on villages in Momauk Township, Kachin State for the past several days, forcing thousands of local residents to flee their homes. The air raids follow fierce fighting between regime troops and a local ethnic armed group, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), in the area.

Fighting has intensified near Myothit and Sihark villages in Momauk Township since the KIA attacked two police outposts and a military base at the Tarpein Bridge on April 11.

“The military has been bombing our villages for four days. Usually they carry out three or four airstrikes a day,” said a local staying near Myothit Village.

A civilian house in Myothit, Momauk Township that was destroyed in a regime airstrike on April 25. / Bhamo Platform

“There is shooting all day and night. No one dares to stay in the villages,” he said.

As of Monday, more than 5,000 villagers had fled to churches and monasteries in Momauk from their homes in Sihike, Kone Law, Myo Haung, Myo Thit, Shwe Myaung, Namt Lan, Mone Khat, Naung Kon and Nant Ngoe villages.

Local residents said many homes in Myothit were destroyed in the airstrikes.

A civilian house in Myothit, Momauk Township that was destroyed in a regime airstrike on April 25. / Bhamo Platform

“We did not have time to take our belongings when we fled. Now, most of our homes have been burned down and destroyed in the bombing by the military. Everything is gone,” a resident of Kone Law Village said.

On Monday, the KIA also attacked a convoy of military vehicles that was reinforcing regime troops in Momauk Township. KIA spokesperson Colonel Naw Bu was unable to confirm whether there were any casualties, however.

Fighting has also been reported at Alaw Bum base near the Chinese border after the military made efforts to recapture it. The KIA seized the base from the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw), on March 25. The KIA currently occupies the base. More than 100 junta soldiers, including a battalion commander, are believed to have been killed during heavy fighting in the area in early April.

Clashes between the KIA and regime troops were also reported in Waimaw, Hpakant and Tanai townships on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, the KIA warned junta troops not to establish bases in restricted areas including in religious buildings and schools in Bhamo and Momauk townships. The armed group also asked locals not to allow the Tatmadaw to use their vehicles to transport troops or food supplies or travel to combat zones.

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