More than 30 civilians killed by Myanmar junta in Sagaing: Volunteers

More than 30 civilians have been killed in fighting between Myanmar’s junta and resistance groups since February 20 in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, according to volunteers, The Irrawaddy reports.

Junta shelling caused most of the fatalities with others killed in drone strikes and shooting, a volunteer said.

“The regime deliberately shelled civilian targets and residential areas. Some were shot dead in Kale town,” he said.

Around 15 people were killed in junta shooting and shelling since resistance forces announced that they were stepping up their offensive in Kale on February 27.

Residents from Kale and neighboring Khaikam town in Chin State have since fled their homes.

Bomb shelters are vital for survival, said a volunteer helping displaced people.

“There is repeated regime shelling and airstrikes so people need bomb shelters and to prepare escape routes,” he said.

More than 50,000 Kale residents have been displaced and many urgently need food, medicine and clothes, according to volunteers.

A member of Voice of Kalay, an anti-regime group in Kale, said: “There has been heavy fighting across the township. We hear gunfire every night and more residents are being displaced.”

On March 16, resistance forces attacked Aung Myin Thar and Kyaung Taik villages in the north of the township where more than 140 junta soldiers and allied Pyu Saw Htee militia members were based. The regime used air support but both villages fell.

Around 20 junta troops and two resistance fighters were killed and two Pyu Saw Htee leaders were captured, according to resistance forces.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.

Approximately 30 Pyu Saw Htee members and their relatives in Kyaung Taik were mistakenly killed by junta shelling and airstrikes on March 16, according to resistance forces.

A member of Kale Township People’s Defense Team told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that both villages had fallen.

The villages had been used as bases to shell and raid surrounding villages.

“Everyone who died in Kyaung Taik was Pyu Saw Htee. Some escaped to the military’s regional operations command,” said the Voice of Kalay member.

Junta troops deployed in Kale Technological University to the south of Kale are reportedly bombarding surrounding villages and torching houses.

A military analyst said: “The resistance offensive in Kale has become more systematic. The junta is losing territory and it may use Kale residents as human shields. People should leave when they can.”

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