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Over 20,000 locals flee as Myanmar’s military raids Sagaing region villages

More than 20,000 locals abandoned their villages in Sagaing region’s Khin-U township as Myanmar’s military intensified its offensive against local People’s Defense Forces.

A column of around 100 troops staged a dawn raid on Myin Daung village on Wednesday killing five defense force members, according to a PDF official who declined to be named. The defense force responded by detonating mines and exchanging gunfire with junta forces.

A resident of nearby Aung Thar said that after the battle, the junta column shelled other villages in Khin-U township, destroying a monastery and burning down three houses in his village.

He added that five men who were farming outside the village were taken by troops to act as human shields when they left Aung Thar village.

CAPTION: The corner of a house damaged by gunfire in Aung Thar village on April 19, 2023. Credit: Citizen journalist

A resident of Myin Daung, who also requested anonymity, said thousands of residents of nearby villages fled their homes

“There are more than 10 villages to the south of Myin Daung with a population of about 18,000 people,” the local said. 

“Along with the people leaving villages to the north there will be more than 20,000 people fleeing.”

A People’s Defense Force member who also declined to give his name told RFA that 21 villages are now empty.

RFA called Sagaing region junta spokesperson Aye Hlaing but no one answered.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.