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Newborns and women among 50 detained in southern Myanmar

Myanmar troops arrested around 50 villagers in an act of retaliation, locals told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday. After a local People’s Defence Force attacked a junta outpost, soldiers captured women, children and entire families from a nearby village.

While the army has already released some detainees, others remain in custody in Tanintharyi, the country’s southern coastal region. Locals from Myeik township said soldiers captured them on Monday following a clash that allegedly left several junta soldiers dead.

The arrests are ongoing, a resident who did not want to be named for security reasons told RFA on Wednesday.

“They arrested all the villagers in Tone Byaw Gyi village. There are entire families, even mothers with newborn babies,” he said. “Some were released. Some are still being arrested.”

The militia group attacked the post in Tone Byaw Gyi last week, an official from the local People’s Defense Force said.

“We tried to seize the outpost, but we couldn’t because they laid many landmines around it,” he said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. 

“We left the battle because we were out of arms and ammunition. Our side lost a drone in the battle.”

Junta forces are treating villagers harshly because of their heavy losses, he said, adding that 12 soldiers were killed and six were injured.

RFA has been unable to confirm these claims.

Tanintharyi region’s junta spokesperson Thant Zin did not respond to RFA’s request for comment by the time of publication. 

The junta outpost in Tone Byaw Gyi is the site of many ongoing clashes since the country’s 2021 coup, with local resistance groups bombing the outpost in July. 

Regime troops arrested over 3,200 people in Tanintharyi region between April 2022 and September 2023. Among them, 2,141 were released, according to the independent research group that goes only by the initials FEB Tanintharyi.

More than 25,000 people, including pro-democracy activists, have been arrested since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.