Multiple clashes have been reported in many parts of southern Sagaing Region in recent days as the military continues to carry out “clearance operations” that it began earlier this month.
On Sunday, fighting broke out after a camp run by a local defence force was raided by a column of around 70 regime troops in Yinmabin Township, some 100km west of Mandalay.
A member of the group, who declined to disclose the exact location of the camp, said that it was destroyed despite efforts to repel the junta forces.
“We didn’t have many people there because it was just a temporary rest camp. Some of our soldiers lost clothes and backpacks, but that was about it,” the resistance fighter said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The following morning, the regime soldiers were attacked as they left the area and entered neighbouring Kani Township, he added.
“There was fighting in the forest northwest of Thaminchan. Later it moved to Muhtaw. There haven’t been any casualties,” he said on Monday, referring to two villages in Kani Township.
Between them, Yinmabin and Kani townships are estimated to have around 50 self-organising groups resisting Myanmar’s military junta. Most are loosely affiliated with the People’s Defence Force (PDF) formed by the shadow National Unity Government in the wake of last year’s coup.
A number of the groups have reported airstrikes in parts of Kani Township, but details of these attacks were not available at the time of reporting.
Resistance forces in both townships say that several villages have been attacked since the beginning of the month, resulting in the loss of around 100 homes and the displacement of at least 1,000 local civilians.
Farther to the north, in Khin-U Township, clashes have been taking place on a daily basis, according to a member of a local PDF group.
A skirmish near the village of Shwe Thein Taw on Sunday reportedly left two junta soldiers severely injured, the PDF member said.
“Fighting broke out after we fired on them, but it only lasted about 20 minutes. We suffered no injuries on our side,” he said, adding that the soldiers were part of a column of around 100 troops that has been attacking local villages in the area in recent weeks.
At least one person was found dead in Shwe Thein Taw after it was occupied by the regime forces, who were accused of setting fire to 14 houses in the village.
A 70-year-old man was also reportedly killed in Myo Thit, a neighbouring village where two people, including a monk, were said to have been abducted.
The junta troops started heading west on Monday, and by late night had reached the village of Innpat, where resistance forces said they attempted to repel them using explosives, including some that were fitted to drones.
“They marched towards our camp in the village, so we detonated eight explosives. We also deployed four drones and rifle grenades,” said Bo Lin Yaung, a spokesperson for the Khin-U Support Organisation (KSO), the group that was involved in the clash.
While the KSO failed to prevent the soldiers from entering the village, they may have inflicted some casualties, according to Bo Lin Yaung.
“Some of them may have been injured by landmines we laid near the entrance to our camp. But we can’t be sure, because we didn’t find any bodies there,” he said.
The troops left Innpat at around 4pm on Tuesday, but not before burning down five houses and killed one man, the KSO spokesperson said.
Inpat was previously attacked on May 2, when soldiers burned down more than 110 houses.
Several other villages in the area, including Karseik, Thayetpinsu, and Mangyiok, were attacked late last week.
Tensions have also been reported in Salingyi Township in southern Sagaing, where clashes broke out last week near the controversial Letpadaung copper mine.
Myanmar’s ruling military council routinely denies targeting civilians in its offensives against anti-regime resistance forces, despite frequent and well-documented instances of such attacks.