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Myanmar Regime Forces Kill Five Villagers in Sagaing

Resistance fighters in Wetlet Township. / CJ

Five villagers were killed on Sunday and 20 others went missing during a junta raid in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township, according to residents.

Some 50 junta troops from No. 42 Infantry Battalion based in Shwebo under Division 33 arrived in two trucks in Ywathargyi Village on Sunday and started shooting indiscriminately, said Wetlet Township People’s Defense Force (PDF).

“Seven houses were torched yesterday and five more were torched today. [Junta soldiers] disposed of the bodies of slain villagers as they burned houses. We heard some 20 villagers are also missing. But we don’t know why,” a Wetlet Township PDF fighter told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Around 150 villagers who were unable to flee are trapped in the village and are reportedly being held for questioning.

“Junta troops are deployed in the village school and have summoned villagers for questioning,” said a Ywathargyi resident.

Ywathargyi is a large village with around 1,000 houses, located at the junction of roads leading to Mandalay, Shwebo and Monywa in the west of Wetlet Township. Military regime troops raided the village for no apparent reason, as there was no fighting near the village prior to the raid.

“At least ten villagers were hit. Some cattle were also killed. They [junta forces] also fired mortar shells. Some houses burned down after being hit by mortar shells. They also set fire to houses. Villagers from Ywathargyi and nearby villages have fled,” said Bo Myay Auzar from Wetlet Township PDF.

On Sunday, junta troops and police stationed in Hla Taw Village also raided another village in Wetlet and shelled surrounding villages, said Wetlet Township Information, an anti-coup group documenting regime atrocities in the township.

One Ywathargyi resident said on Monday: “We fled to the west of the village when they raided. And then we fled to another village. Our family members were only reunited this morning. We still dare not return to our village.”

Sunday’s raid was the fourth time Ywathargyi has been raided since last year’s coup, which forced some 4,000 villagers from Ywathargyi, as well as residents from nearby villages, to flee their homes.

Regime forces troops torched an electrical appliance shop in Ywathargyi, and also stole 30 million kyats and eight ticals of gold items from a rice mill in the village, said residents.

“Families from Aunglantw Rice Mill were about to leave when junta soldiers came and arrested them. And junta soldiers also took more than 30 million kyats and eight ticals of gold items from them. This morning, they blocked the road junction at Ywathargyi and were checking all the road users,” said another resident on Monday.

Local resistance groups carried out three drone attacks on junta forces in Ywathargyi on Sunday. However, regime casualties are still unknown, said Adventure Youth drone unit.