Displaced locals from a Taze Township village say they heard the military fire both shells and guns before they saw smoke rising from the community
Displaced locals from Sagaing Region’s Taze Township said they saw smoke rising from their village on Sunday morning after a clash between local resistance forces and junta troops broke out there one day earlier.
The military occupied the village—Kar Paung Kya—after opening fire with heavy weapons on members of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF) in Taze.
According to a member of the Taze PDF, they clashed with more than 100 junta soldiers for 45 minutes after the resistance group launched an attack near Kar Paung Kya using explosives. The Taze PDF was forced to retreat after the military retaliated, he added, with the coup regime’s soldiers remaining in Kar Paung Kya.
“Some said they could see smoke coming out from the edge of the village. We don’t know anything for sure yet,” said a Kar Paung Kya local who would like to remain anonymous.
Locals said they heard the military firing both shells and guns near the village early Sunday morning before they saw the smoke.
“The military is still inside the village. They fired an artillery shell once in the morning and fired some 20 rounds of light weapons,” another Kar Paung Kya resident said.
Further details about the military’s activities in Kar Paung Kya were not known at the time of reporting.
According to the Taze PDF member, a 22-year-old resistance fighter known as Myo Chit San was killed by the junta’s artillery fire on Saturday.
The Myanmar army torched several homes in Kar Paung Kya in October after occupying the community for a week.
One day before the clash near Kar Paung Kya, buildings in the town of Kyunhla—some 60km from Taze—were ransacked and torched by members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee network, two sources told Myanmar Now.
Among the sites targeted were homes in Pyinma Myaing ward, several tea shops, and a motorcycle in Sipin Zay Kone ward, as well as a goldsmith which was looted there, locals said.
One of the locals who spoke to Myanmar Now noted that the Pyu Saw Htee members appeared to be targeting the shops and houses owned by members or supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, whose elected administration was ousted in Myanmar’s February 1 coup.
“They torched the buildings because they believed they belonged to pro-NLD people,” the local man said. “The Pyu Saw Htee group has been terrorising the town for a long time. We don’t have any PDF groups present in the town of Kyunhla.”
He added that residents of the neighbourhood had to put out the blaze set by the Pyu Saw Htee as the fire department did not respond to the incident.
Members of the group were also seen firing shots in the town and threatening locals two days before the raid, with some residents speculating that the Pyu Saw Htee were testing out their weapons and shooting in the air, according to another local.
The individual added that the members of the group had also fired shots into the air until 1am after torching the buildings in Pyinma Myaing ward.
“They were doing so in order to make the neighbourhood residents believe that they had to open fire because there was a clash [between the resistance and the junta forces],” he said, noting that no such clash had occurred.
Myanmar Now tried to contact the Kyunhla central police station to comment on the locals’ accounts of the events, but the officer on duty refused to answer the calls.
Junta information officer Gen Zaw Min Tun said during a press conference on September 15 that the military had not formed the Pyu Saw Htee group nor had they provided them with weapons or training.
At least two villagers in Kyunhla Township were killed during the airstrikes by the Myanmar military in late-October.
Locals from several villages in the region had to flee on November 9 when the military fired shells to the west of the Thaphan Sate dam during a battle with the PDF just outside the township.
The Kyunhla Township PDF has stated that the military has carried out frequent raids on villages in the area and robbed civilians of their valuables and food supplies.
Sagaing Region quickly became a resistance stronghold against the junta following the February coup.
Myanmar Now remains unable to contact the military for comment on the ongoing offensive in northwestern Myanmar, nor has the junta addressed in state-controlled newspapers the crimes of which it is accused in the region.