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Junta shelling forces residents to flee Myanmar township

Almost all the residents of a Kachin Independence Army-controlled town were forced to flee when Myanmar’s junta fired heavy artillery at residential areas, according to army officials and locals.

In an online video seen by Radio Free Asia an alarm can be heard and school children are seen running to safety.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, told RFA that junta troops stationed in Lwegel fired heavy weapons on Mai Ja Yang town from early Friday morning.

“At around 10 a.m., five heavy weapons were fired,” the local said. 

“I was still sleeping when the first shells were fired. The sound of the mortar could be heard, and a house in the city was hit. We all ran away. The students who were attending school also ran away in fear. There are not many people in the city now.”

A university, a college, two high schools and a primary school all fall under the governorship of the Mai Ja Yang Institute of Education led by the Kachin Independence Organization, the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army.

College students who were sitting exams had to abandon their classrooms when the junta shelled the area, residents said, adding that two high school students and a civilian adult were injured but not critically.

Kachin Independence Organization Information Officer Col. Naw Bu said the junta shelled the town and carried out air raids on the group’s headquarters in Laizar in retaliation for the Kachin Independence Army seizing two joint camps of junta troops and affiliated militia.

“The militia camp in Ta Law Gyi was captured this morning and another militia camp in Baw Sar Dee village, which is between Ta Law Gyi and Shwe Nyaung Pin villages was also captured,” he said.

“The junta side opened fire with heavy weapons believed to be 105 millimeters in the direction of  Mai Ja Yang and Laizar towns. The junta carried out an airstrike near Mong Set Par village and we are still investigating whether people have been injured.”

RFA called junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun seeking comment, but calls went unanswered.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.