Fighting between the Myanmar army and anti-junta rebels has flared in recent days, with locals in one village saying Saturday that more than a dozen people were killed in a single raid.
Deadly violence has engulfed Myanmar since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in February 2021 and unleashed a bloody crackdown on dissent that has left thousands dead.
The junta has been battling anti-coup “People’s Defence Force” (PDF) militias, as well as long-established ethnic rebel armies that control large areas of territory close to the country’s borders.
A senior military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that fighting had been going on in recent days in the states of Kachin, Karen and Kayah, as well as Sagaing and Magway regions.
Two people from Sone Chaung village in Sagaing — a hotbed of resistance to junta rule — told AFP the army had killed 14 people in a raid in the early hours of Friday morning.
The two villagers, who both spoke on condition of anonymity, said the army came looking for PDF leaders.
One said that six of the dead were PDF fighters, but the rest were civilians, and the bodies were found scattered over a wide area, apparently shot or cut down as they tried to flee.
“Fighting and raids of PDF places in Sagaing and Magway regions are ongoing these days,” another military source confirmed on condition of anonymity without giving further details.
Access to the areas affected is extremely difficult for journalists, making it hard to independently verify local accounts.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Southeast Asian ministers that Washington and regional states must pressure the junta to put an end to violence and return to democracy.
But diplomatic and economic pressure on the generals has so far had no effect.
The junta, which justified its coup by alleging fraud in elections won by Suu Kyi’s party, has promised to hold fresh polls.
But it has delayed them once, and last week hinted it may extend a state of emergency and postpone polls again.