More than 10,000 people have been displaced in south-eastern Shwegu Township, after a Burma army military column was on patrol in the area from 23 March to 11 April. Villagers fled from the area while the military column was on patrol, and are afraid to return to their villages after hearing rumors that the column will start patrolling the area again soon.
Volunteers who are providing assistance to the IDPs said that they urgently need humanitarian aid including food rations and medicine.
From 23 March to 11 April, the Burma army military column patrolled through 10 villages in south-eastern Shwegu Township. People from Si Mulay, Si Mugyi, Nawng Lat Gyi, Winwa, Mang Wein, Si Tha, Si Thaung, Mang Hker, Nam Lan, and Hnget Tantar villages fled from the military column and have taken shelter in safer places.
As of 12 April, the Burma army military column had already returned to Shwegu town.
“The Burma army military column has now returned to Shwegu town, but we heard news that the military column will start patrolling again in our area. This is why local people are afraid to return to their villages. I don’t know when the military column will patrol in the area again, we’ve only hear rumors,” a female, who is helping IDP in Shwegu, told KNG.
A member of the Shwegu People’s Defense Force (Shwegu PDF) said that there are more than 10,000 IDPs in Shwegu Township. More than 5,000 of these IDPs, including children and elderly people, have been hiding in the jungle for nearly a month.
“They could not bring any property with them when they fled from the Burma army. They need food rations. Some IDPs have taken shelter in Shwegu town. Most IDPs are still hiding in jungle. These IDPs need food rations and medicine,” the member of Shwegu PDF told KNG.
There are approximately 200 Burma army soldiers in the military column patrolling in south-eastern Shwegu Township. The military column includes soldiers from the Burma army’s Infantry Battalion 77, Infantry Battalion 88 and Infantry Battalion 10 under Light Infantry Division 88.
A local female Shwegu resident said that the Burma army military column patrolled in south-east Shwegu Township from 23 March until 11 April. She said when they were patrolling, fighter jets often launched airstrikes against civilian villages in the area.
“The Burma army’s ground forces and airstrikes damaged houses in 10 villages. There were more than 300 houses in Si Tha village, of which more than 200 houses were burned by the Burma army. There are more than 3,000 IDP from Si Tha village. They are still hiding in the jungle. Livestock including pigs, chickens, water buffalo and cattle were killed in the village. There is bad smell of rotting dead bodies in the village,” a female IDP taking shelter in Shwegu town told KNG.
On 11 April, the Burma army military column withdrew from south-eastern Shwegu Township and returned to Shwegu town. The military column is staying in the Wahso Buddhist monastery and the Myawaddy Buddhist monastery in Shwegu town.
When the Burma army’s military column was patrolling in south-eastern Shwegu Township there were multiple clashes with a combined force of Kachin Independence Army and People’s Defense Force. The Burma army suffered many causalities during the clashes, and retaliated with airstrikes on civilian villages in the area.