On Thursday, the regime burnt down over 100 houses in a village in Katha Township, Sagaing Region.
“They started burning houses near the riverbank in Nyaung Chay Tauk,” said a People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighter after the regime arrived in the village of 400 houses at 1pm from Htigyaing Township. The soldiers claimed residents were supporting the PDF, which is fighting to overthrow Burma’s dictatorship.
The column of an estimated 200 soldiers also attacked other villages with heavy weapons as they travelled the Irrawaddy River in three motorboats, forcing more than 5,000 people to seek refuge.
In Katha Township, a 36-year-old woman has lost both her hands after being hit by a shell fired from the column, which is reportedly staying in an abandoned village on the riverbank.
“If the soldiers find the villagers, they will be detained and forced to be porters,” the PDF fighter said.
On 19 May, the PDF’s Battalion 1 warned civilians to hide before the enemy arrived in the area. Residents of Mya Tawng, Tak Kya, Yay Kan, Koe Tel, Wel Gyi, Kan Ni, Kyauk Maw, Nat Inn, Inn Ta Mut, Nyaung Chay Tauk and Thanpayar all fled into the jungle.
Along the Irrawaddy River between Sagaing Region and Kachin State, fighting has been fierce since the coup. The regime often indiscriminately shells civilian villages and burns down their houses. Villagers and their livestock have been killed and many houses destroyed in the attacks.
Until recently, the junta had scaled its presence in Htigyaing and Katha townships after intense fighting with resistance forces in the area in March.