At least three soldiers were killed, and two militia members injured during clashes in western Myanmar’s Magway and Sagaing regions Thursday, as fighting between the junta and civilian forces showed no sign of abating some four months after the military toppled the country’s democratically elected government.
Junta troops set up camp near the Shwe Aung Thar village monastery between the Magway townships of Kyaukhtu and Hteelin, along the border of neighboring Chin state, at around 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening, prompting a unit of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) to attack their position early on Thursday, a member of the CDF told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“Last night, two military trucks carrying about 50 to 60 troops entered the village and took up positions at the monastery in the village,” said the CDF member, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal.
“The CDF attacked early this morning, at about 5:30 a.m., and the fighting ended at around 7:00 a.m. The military suffered between three and seven killed, and four others were injured in the fighting. Our forces later retreated when [the military] began using heavy weapons against us.”
According to the source, another skirmish took place in the afternoon, but resulted in no casualties. He said that with more than 50 military troops currently stationed at the monastery, more fighting is expected in coming days.
A network of volunteers formed in April, the CDF are taking on Myanmar’s army—the second largest in Southeast Asia—with slingshots and the same crude flintlock “Tumee” rifles their forefathers used to fight off British colonizers in the 1880s. The CDF said it had killed some 100 junta troops between March and May.
Following the Feb. 1 coup, most Chins joined compatriots across Myanmar in daily street protests, only to be met by deadly military violence that has killed nearly 850 civilians nationwide. In the three months to May 1 alone, 28 civilians in Chin state were killed and more than 200 were arrested, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).
Trucks bringing soldiers
A similar clash took place Thursday in Sagaing region’s Kalay township, according to a member of the Kalay People’s Defense Force (PDF), although no one was killed in the fighting.
The PDF member, who also declined to be named, told RFA that the military entered an area between Kalay’s Doe Nwe and Ashay See villages in five trucks last night.
“The fighting started just after 10:00 p.m. Two of our men were slightly injured—one was hit by a bullet in the hand and the other by shrapnel,” he said.
“[The military] fired three rockets at us. They came in five trucks bringing in sixty-six soldiers. We have informers and spies in our village [who gave us warning].”
Sources told RFA that the fighting in Kalay township had caused residents of four nearby villages to flee into the jungle, adding to a growing refugee population in the area. They said that since the Feb. 1 coup, there have been at least seven clashes between the PDF and the military.
RFA was unable to reach Myanmar’s Deputy Information Minister Zaw Min Tun Thursday and could not independently confirm the reports of fighting and casualties in Sagaing and Magway.
The Thailand-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says that 845 civilians have been killed and more than 4,500 people have been arrested since the military coup.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by Radio Free Asia.