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Rebels claim 2 junta bases in central Myanmar, taking 120 surrenderers

Over 100 junta troops surrendered after guerilla-style militias captured two of their camps in central Myanmar, a militia member told Radio Free Asia on Tuesday.

The camps are located between two townships in Sagaing region, where anti-junta sentiment is high and indiscriminate attacks by the Myanmar military have been frequent since the army seized power in 2021. 

Seven combined anti-junta armed groups, including Paungbyin People’s Defense Force and Homalin People’s Defense Force, carried out the most recent capture on Sunday.

A member of the militia said the People’s Defense Forces now control the Chindwin river between two townships, strategic land that the junta used to target villages. The river was previously used by junta forces to transport supplies and fuel further attacks on villages situated nearby.

“These camps and battalions are connected to Homalin and Paungbyin [townships]. Now, we can completely control the waters of the Chindwin river,” he told RFA, declining to be named for security reasons. “From that place, the military could attack villages in Paungbyin. But that area is now in our hands.”

Some junta soldiers were trapped and later rescued by a Mi-17 helicopter from the junta air force base in Homalin, he added. The People’s Defense Force seized Light Infantry Battalions 396 and 370, as well as taking 120 surrenderers prisoner out of the 300 junta troops present.

Troops stationed across Sagaing have frequently conducted attacks across the region and have been accused of gruesome assaults and baseless arrests of civilians, including women and children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Sagaing was also cited as the division with the highest rate of body-burning, a recurrent tactic by junta troops.

RFA contacted Sagaing region’s junta spokesperson Nyunt Win Aung regarding the bases’ capture, but he did not respond. 

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Taejun Kang.