About 20 members of local resistance forces in central Burma were killed in an army ambush as they tried to evacuate villagers ahead of a feared army attack, according to resistance members and media reports.
The total number of resistance fighters killed last Friday near Chay Yar Taw village in Myinmu Municipality of Sagaing Region would, if confirmed, be one of the highest numbers in a single armed confrontation in Myanmar’s ongoing conflict since the army seized power in February 2021. deposing the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The military’s takeover led to massive, nonviolent protests across the country, to which the military and police responded with deadly force. In turn, armed resistance emerged, which has since developed into what UN experts have characterized as a civil war.
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The army has carried out major offensives in the countryside over the past two years, including burning villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. The country has faced the heaviest resistance in Sagaing, in Burma’s historic heartland.
Loosely organized resistance groups have emerged across the country to oppose army rule, known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF), and have formed alliances with established armed ethnic minority groups that have been fighting the central government for more than half a century. , aiming for more autonomy in the border regions.
San Shar, a spokesman for the Black Eagle Defense Force resistance group from Myinmu Municipality, told The Associated Press that the ambush occurred around 8 p.m. Friday evening as these and other local resistance groups were evacuating hundreds of civilians southward from Kyawt Min village. They took residents to nearby villages, including Chay Yar Taw, as they expected soldiers to invade Kyawt Min from the north that night.
The area is located about 65 kilometers west of Mandalay, the country’s second largest city.
This image shows the Burmese flag. (Photo by SOE THAN WIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Another member of the Black Eagle Defense Force, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from the military, said Monday that a truck carrying villagers drove ahead but stopped along the way, and resistance fighters chased him in a minivan. and on motorcycles he rushed forward to overtake him. He said they did not realize that an estimated 30 soldiers in civilian clothes had staked out the site, and that the soldiers were easily captured and then killed the resistance fighters, including five members of his group.
He said the resistance fighters only had homemade weapons and could not resist the much better armed soldiers.
He acknowledged he did not witness the killings, but said he believed they were shot on the spot Friday evening and early Saturday. Two PDF members managed to escape, he said. He said evacuated villagers who continued were apparently unharmed, although a villager from Kyawt Min was killed under unclear circumstances.
When PDF members went to the scene on Saturday morning, they saw the bodies of their comrades with the gunshot wounds to the head piled up on the street where they had been arrested, he said, adding that they were all male and that they appeared to have signs of illness . tortured.
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It was impossible to independently confirm details of the attack because reporting by the military government is limited.
Independent online news site Myanmar Now quoted a spokesperson for the Sagaing District PDF Battalion as saying that a vehicle carrying 18 resistance fighters trying to evacuate villagers was attacked by security forces and all occupants were killed on Friday evening. A motor convoy of seven resistance force members was later fired upon by the same army unit and there were no survivors, it said.
Reports of the killings, along with purported photos of the dead’s remains, also appeared in other independent Burmese media and on social media on Saturday.
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The military government has not officially reported the incident. However, reports from military supporters on the social media platform Telegram also say that 25 members of local PDF groups were killed by security forces in the Chay Yar Taw ambush, and motorcycles, two cars and weapons were seized.