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Radio Free Asia

Youths Bear Brunt of Junta Attacks on Myanmar Resistance Strongholds

2021-05-13 -- A technical college student and a 17-year-old were killed and other youths were arrested when army troops attacked pockets of resistance to military junta across central and western Myanmar, local residents and media said Thursday.

The killings and arrests followed fierce fighting in Mandalay and Sagaing divisions and Chin state, in villages and towns where opponents of the military junta that ousted the elected government on Feb. 1 were met with reprisals after they had inflicted casualties on the better armed soldiers.

In the village of Talotemyo in the central region of Mandalay, first-year student Zin Ko Tun of Myingyan Technical College died after his arrest with five other students, all of whom were members of the Talotemyo People's Defense Force and had sustained gunshot wounds during a clash with the military on Wednesday, a fellow fighter said.

Six wounded students were taken away, but (army-run) "Myawaddy TV news showed only five of them. They killed the boy who was wounded on his arm. His family was notified to come and retrieve the body," said a member of the people's defense force, one of numerous local militias that have sprung up cross Myanmar.

Zin Ko Tun's family had been notified Thursday to retrieve his body, the militiaman said, adding the slain freshman was among six students, including a woman, who were arrested after the clash between the military and village security forces the previous day.

A resident of Myingyan, Irrawaddy River city of 275,00 people, said some of the villagers were carrying M-16 assault rifles, ammunition and hand grenades they had seized the previous day after a fight with junta troops.

"The local villagers fought back with slingshots and arrows and whatever weapon they could find. Some soldiers were killed during the fighting and their weapons were seized by the villagers," the resident said.

"That's why they came back in revenge today. People from this village had ardently and strongly supported the anti-military protests in Myingyan from the very beginning, so the village had become one of the main targets."

Rocket-propelled grenades fired

Talotemyo, a village just north of Myingyan, had been under siege by hundreds of junta soldiers since Tuesday night.

"About 200 soldiers surrounded our village and attacked us at about 4 in the morning. Later at around 8 a.m., about half of them went on to attack the villages east of us and arrested everyone they found in Yedaing village," a local villager said Wednesday. "About 200 people got arrested there."

Another villager told RFA that about 700 troops fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at barricades built by the villagers' security forces, forcing them to withdraw.

"Last night around midnight, their reinforcements arrived in five trucks and then another seven truckloads of soldiers joined them around 5 am. Of the three barricades we had built they blasted the one in the south and the one in the west with rocket-propelled grenades," the villager said.

"Two of our men got wounded in the legs and as we tried to take them to safety, the military began shooting at us with automatic weapons. Without the cover of our sandbags we couldn't do anything else but retreat."

About 50,000 people, including the sick and elderly, are being evacuated, villagers said.

In Sagaing, in northwestern Myanmar near the border with India, witnesses said at least five soldiers were injured or possibly killed Thursday after about 300 junta forces attacked the local defense force hiding near Mae Thae Forest Reserve, outside Chaung-U village, a suburb of the regional capital Monywa.

"They fired their automatic weapons blindly and continuously the moment they saw us," said Zarni Thein, a leader of Chaung-U youth group.

"They set fire to the archway entrance of the village pagoda and some houses and motorcycles in the village. They also used mortars in their attack on us," he added.

Soldiers appeared to be dead

Zarni Thein said the military had taken away five soldiers with gunshot wounds on a bullock cart and they seemed to be dead though he was not certain.

More than 200 young people have fled Chaung-U, which was first village to be attacked in Sagaing, which has the largest number of village defense forces resisting the junta.

The youth left behind about 200 home-made firearms and grenades, as well as rice and other supplies, and these were taken away by the military, which sent in vehicles to demolish resistance forces' barricades, a local villager said.

"I am sure they (the soldiers) will do all kinds of things, because they are not humans, they are worse than animals. But our youths do not get intimidated by their actions. They have become stronger and more determined to fight back," said a resident of Chaung-U.

In a part of Sagaing close to the border with India, fighters with the Tamu People's Defense Forces said one of their members, a 40-year-old man, was killed in a clash early Wednesday.

"Just after midnight there was a clash with them down near … the entrance of the town. We are sure at least 10 of them were killed but we don't know how many were wounded. We also suffered at least one dead and many injured."

More than a dozen people, including three members of the Tamu People's Defense Force, have been killed in shootouts with the military since the coup, residents said.

To the southwest of Sagaing, in Chin state, an ethnic Chin teenager was killed and six members of Mindat Defense Force were injured by junta artillery on Thursday, the Irrawaddy online news outlet reported. Local fighters in Mindat killed at least 20 junta troops in late April in attacks with homemade rifles.

"A 17-year-old was killed. They are still firing on us from Kyaukhtu," a town 33 kms (20 miles) east of Mindat, the Irrawaddy quoted a member of the Mindat Defense Force as saying

RFA tried to contact Deputy Information Minister Maj.-Gen Zaw Min Tun for comment on the fighting, but he did not respond.

Reported by Kin Maung Soe for RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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