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Junta raids force more than 7,000 villagers to flee Salingyi

More than 7,000 residents of villages in Sagaing region’s Salingyi township have fled their homes ahead of junta raids, according to a member of the pro-democracy Salingyi-Yinmarbin Strike Committee.

The man, who didn’t wish to be named, said a column of 150 troops descended on the township on Thursday morning, leading residents of nine villages to flee.

“Residents from those villages are still on the run,” he said. “There have been no arrests.”

He said that the column of troops was made up of soldiers based in Salingyi town and others from a Chinese-owned copper project in the township.

The Strike Committee member said troops had killed five civilians who they had brought with them from other villages. He didn’t know the names of the dead.

Residents of Salingyi township, Sagaing region, crown into a truck as they flee ahead of junta raids on April 27, 2023. Credit: Facebook: Ah Nyar Pyit Taing Htaung Lay Myar Group 

The military has intensified an already bloody campaign in Sagaing region this year, declaring martial law in 11 townships in February to try to wrest control of them from People’s Defense Forces and defend foreign-owned mining interests.

This month alone, troops have torched hundreds of homes in Sagaing region, and killed around 200 civilians in the bombing of Pa Zi Gyi village.

There were more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons across Myanmar as of April 10, 2023, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Nearly 1.5 million of them fled their homes due to fighting since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.