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A combined force of Myanmar army soldiers and members of the junta-allied Pyu Saw Htee militias attacked two villages in central Myanmar and torched more than 200 homes this week, residents said.

The communities of Lel Yar and Letpan Hla, 29 km south of Pauk township in Magway region, were targeted in the attacks carried out on Wednesday and Thursday.

Lel Yar was ambushed first.

“We could see them walking towards our village,” said a 30-year-old woman from Lel Yar. “We heard someone shouting that the Pyu Saw Htee and the soldiers were coming and we fled on our motorbikes.”

More than 1,700 people from the village were displaced by the assault, including 500 children, according to local sources.

Around 8 p.m. Wednesday, troops and militiamen began burning homes in Lel Yar, destroying some 200 of the village’s 260 homes.

“We could still hear gunshots, so we thought they were still firing into the village, but we started seeing flames there,” the Lel Yar resident said. “As the wind blew, the fire consumed the whole village.”

Among the properties lost in the fire were tens of thousands of dollars worth of agricultural and food supplies, including a two-story barn, a grain processor for cattle feed, a barn, a water pump and a large crop. onions.

“I hope they will meet the same fate as us,” Lel Yar’s wife said, calling the army and the Pyu Saw Htee “evil”.

The following day, troops crossed the nearby Yaw stream and attacked Letpan Hla, burning at least 30 of the village’s 90 homes, according to a member of an anti-junta local defense force in southern Pauk township.

“They fired heavy artillery and 60mm shells as they entered the village. We evacuated the civilians to a nearby hill and let the junta forces destroy the village,” he told Myanmar Now.

It was unconfirmed at the time of writing how many villagers were forced to flee.

The invading military column consisted of more than 150 junta members, the defense force member estimated, and noted that the Pyu Saw Htee members involved in the raid were identified as coming from Wun Chone villages. , Pin Taung and Thit Cho Kone.

He said he was upset that the resistance force was unable to protect Letpan Hla from attack.

“It’s our fault that the village was destroyed,” he added.

The guerrilla fighters also reportedly attempted to defend against the raid on Lel Yar, but were forced to retreat due to the significant difference in firepower.

“How would our homemade weapons work against them? We aim very poorly because of our very low level weapons,” the defense force member told Myanmar Now.

The junta column left Letpan Hla on Friday and was last seen heading towards the villages of Boet Mei and Inn Nge Daunt. Local resistance groups reportedly formed an alliance and anticipated the arrival of troops.

In June, junta forces burned down the village of Kinma20 miles south of the town of Pauk, destroying 80% of homes and killing an elderly couple who had been unable to flee the attack.

Pauk Township is located on the road to southern Chin State, which has become a stronghold of resistance and the site of major clashes between local defense forces and the Myanmar military.

the The military junta has armed militias as part of its effort to crush anti-regime forces.

“Popular militias” – or Pyu Saw Htee as they are commonly known – have been deployed in many parts of Sagaing and Magwe regions where armed resistance groups have been most active.

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