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Junta airstrike hits passenger bus in Myanmar, killing woman

Junta forces dropped an explosive on a passenger bus, killing an elderly woman, locals told Radio Free Asia Tuesday. 

Regime troops dropped the bomb from a Soviet-produced Mi-2 helicopter on Monday while battles raged nearby. Five passengers on board were injured, residents said, adding that the bus was enroute to Dawei, the capital of Myanmar’s southernmost Tanintharyi region. 

Fighting in Dawei has already left thousands homeless. On Sunday alone, 1,000 residents fled five villages in the township after a local defense force attempted to capture a junta camp, villagers told RFA Burmese 

On Feb. 17, a junta offensive on Dawei city’s eastern side near the Thai border initiated a 10-day battle with local resistance groups. The fighting left 7,000 Tanintharyi residents stranded and in need of food and medicine. 

Troops dropped the latest explosive on top of a bus parked on Myeik-Dawei No. 8 Road in Thayetchaung township around 4 p.m. The victim was a 60-year-old woman passengers could only identify by the partial name of Aung, according to an official from the No. 2 Battalion of Dawei district’s People’s Defense Force.

“An elderly woman who was traveling with Mandalar Minn Express bus died. She was hit on her back, underarm and face,” he said, declining to be named for security reasons. “Her body was cremated on Monday. Her belongings are being kept by the No. 2 Battalion until they can be given to her family.”

The defense force has not been able to reach Aung’s relatives, and no further identifying information could be confirmed at this time.

Intense fighting near the Win Wa Police Station in Thayetchaung township, 28 kilometers (17 miles) south of Dawei city, caused the bus to park on the road, the official added.

Dawei defense force’s Oak Awe column spokesperson Yaung Ni told RFA the junta army bombed other villages in Thayetchaung township and a strategic hill nearby.

Battles continued into Tuesday when a junta artillery unit based in Dawei township’s Za Har village fired heavy artillery. The blast exploded in Maung Mei Shaung village’s Shin Dat We Pagoda compound, injuring two civilians.

RFA contacted Tanintharyi spokesperson Thet Naing to confirm these claims, but he did not respond.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.