War Against the Junta

Myanmar Resistance Inflicts Heavy Losses on Notorious Military Unit

By Hein Htoo Zan 24 March 2023

A notorious junta military unit referring to itself as the “Ogre Column” and responsible for a string of atrocities in Sagaing Region suffered at least 42 deaths in recent clashes with resistance forces, including a column commander, according to the local armed groups.

After the column, comprising around 150 troops, entered Myaung Township on March 12, a coalition of resistance forces in Myaung and nearby townships organized a joint operation to defend local civilians.

The body of a junta soldier is seen abandoned after a clash with resistance forces. / Supplied

In a clash on March 15 between the military column and resistance groups, at least eight junta troops were killed, while two PDF fighters were injured. The next day, the resistance forces continued to closely monitor the column before using drones to drop bombs on it, killing at least nine more troops, according to the resistance groups.

Resistance forces said another six regime troops were killed in a land mine attack on the same day.

The heavy losses prompted the military unit to flee to a bank of the Irrawaddy River, where troops killed an internally displaced person who had taken refuge on the riverbank with his family. The column then raided more villages in Yesagyo Township in Magwe Region and torched civilian houses there, according to resistance groups in Myaung.

The coalition of resistance groups launched three additional intensive attacks against the military column on March 21, killing 19 more troops, said Ko Nway Oo, a spokesperson for the Civilian’s Defense and Security Organization of Myaung (CDSOM).

He said that among those killed was a column commander. The resistance group had not yet confirmed his identity, but believed it was one of three officers—Colonel Thant Zin, Major Yaung Chi Oo or Captain Hein Htet Aung—based on classified information on junta military deployments obtained by the resistance groups.

“We have taken up arms in the cause of the revolution, so fighting is simply our duty… But the people are especially pleased that we were able to successfully hit such a notorious column,” said Ko Nway Oo.

The military unit, which identifies itself to villagers simply as the “Ogre Column,” is composed of troops from the junta’s Light Infantry Division 99. Since late last month, it has conducted a series of raids in Ayadaw, Myinmu and Sagaing townships in Sagaing Region. In the raids, it beheaded and mutilated detained resistance fighters and massacred civilian detainees including women who were raped before being killed.

On March 2, the bodies of 17 people who had been detained by the column the previous day in Tar Taing Village, Myinmu Township, were found. All had been brutally slain.

“Thousands of people have had to flee this column’s raids, so we’re really glad that the PDFs were able to fight them so effectively and cause them to suffer that much. We want this column to leave our township too, since we heard they have started entering it,” said U Nyo Maung, 53, a resident of a village in southern Myaung Township who was forced to flee his home with his family.