Junta troops and Pyu Saw Htee militia torch villages on Sittaung River
A series of arson attacks in Bago Region are believed to have been carried out in retaliation for a drone attack by resistance forces and the killing of a Pyu Saw Htee member’s associate
Junta troops and pro-junta militia members burned civilians’ houses, motorcycles and medical supplies this week in several villages in eastern Bago Region, according to local sources.
On Wednesday, the soldiers and members of the Pyu Saw Htee—a militia armed by the military council—targeted the villages of Pu Zun Myaung and Nyaungbingyi, located on the west bank of the Sittaung River in Nyaunglebin and Shwegyin townships, two residents said.
One day earlier, local allied resistance forces had deployed a drone to bomb a junta encampment in Kwin Da La Gyi village near Nyaungbingyi, reportedly killing six soldiers and injuring three others, according to a local man who said he witnessed the incident.
In retaliation, junta troops from Light Infantry Division 77 and Light Infantry Battalion 20 in Bago advanced into Nyaungbingyi early the next day, firing artillery which injured at least 10 civilians, the local man said.
Artillery shells left behind by junta troops after raiding Nyaungbingyi on March 8 (Supplied)
He explained that the soldiers also set fire to motorcycles and destroyed medical supplies in a local clinic in the village run by health workers from the Civil Disobedience Movement, a nationwide campaign opposing the coup regime.
At the time of reporting, the soldiers had not left Bago, according to the man.
“They have not retreated completely. They were picked up by vehicles coming from Nyaunglebin, but I don’t know where they were dropped off,” he said of the troops’ activities after withdrawing from Nyaungbingyi.
While the resistance was carrying out the bomb attack on the junta camp, a man named Paw Oo was killed by anti-regime fighters at the home of Myint Oo—a known Pyu Saw Htee member and the junta-appointed administrator of Pu Zun Myaung village in Nyaunglebin. The assassins then burned down the house in question.
Myint Oo was seen the next morning in the company of soldiers who set fire to at least 10 homes in the village, according to a resident.
After two alleged junta informants were killed in Pu Zun Myaung in February, Myanmar army soldiers threatened to torch the village. Troops fired heavy artillery at Pu Zun Myaung and Nyaungbingyi multiple times, causing most of the residents to flee, the resident said, noting that he was one of the few who stayed behind..
“We can’t even go into the village freely in the daytime. They threaten the villagers when they see them,” the local told Myanmar Now. “They say, ‘Why haven’t you fled yet? Have you stayed behind to spy on us for the other side? Do you want to be killed?’ Some villagers who had already left came back to collect their belongings. They were told by junta soldiers that they couldn’t leave the village once they entered.”
The junta troops and their supporters have also looted vacant homes in Pu Zun Myaung, and have even destroyed some houses in neighbouring Shwe Bon Thar, located to the east, the local man added.
Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify the local reports of the incidents.
The military council has released no information on its activities in Bago.
Local resistance fighters have repeatedly carried out drone and sniper attacks on junta troops operating near the banks of the Sittaung River, which remains a critical route for military transport and logistics.
Nyaunglebin District is also considered the territory of Brigade 3 of the Karen National Union, an ethnic armed organisation which has been resisting the Myanmar military for decades.