Ten villages abandoned after shelling in northern Rathedaung

Narinjara  News, 12 August 2020

Residents in 10 villages have reportedly been forced to flee their villages due to a military offensive in the northern part of Rathedaung Township.

A local resident in Ohphauk said, “this morning, the army entered Ohphauk village. Non stop gunfire could be heard. I can still hear it now. There was heavy artillery fire from the river. Our entire village has been evacuated since the army arrived at 3 pm yesterday. We are now staying in villages in Buthidaung Township,” he said at 9 am today.

The villagers who fled were from Ohphauk, Zeyar Myaing, Ohn Chaung, Thamee Hla New, Thamee Hla Old, Kone Tan, Ma Nyin Taung, Nyaung Pin Hla, Yeh Myat and Kalar Chaung, and have sought refuge in nearby villages in Buthidaung Township.

"Yesterday afternoon, the army was shooting from Thamee Hla Old village and moved up towards Ohphauk. Two speed boats were shooting along the Mayu River and headed up towards Ohphauk. The sound of gunfire is terrifying. No one can bare it. When they heard the sound of shooting, they fled the villages. From around 2 or 3pm yesterday not one person was left in Ohphauk, everyone has gone, ”said a local.

More than 100 troops entered Ohphauk village this morning, coming from Aka Taung village.

A villager currently in Pyin Taw village said, “We have also fled the village. In Pyin Taw village, there are some old people and women who have stayed behind. At around 11:30 am on the 9th of this month, a landmine exploded on the road just before Yeh Myat village while the military was loading cargo on the ground. The land splits between this side of the river bank and the other side of the Kyauktan creek. The boat fired artillery and mortar shells from the other side of the river to this side. They shelled to the west of Mayu River, into Lower Kyaung Taung, and shells hit Sapho Kyun and other villages. I heard that some villagers in Auk Kyaung Taung were injured,” he said.

Ohphauk, Zeyar Myaing, Ohn Chaung, Thamee Hla Ywa Thit, Thamee Hla Old, Kone Tan,  Ma Nyin Taung,  Nyaung Pin Hla, Yeh Myat and Kala Chaung are located in the Kyauktan area on the east bank of the Mayu River. The Sapho Kyun villages are located on the western bank of the Mayu River.

U Khin Maung Latt, a member of the National Assembly for Rathedaung Township, said: “This is the worst case scenario. Both sides of the Mayu River have been shelled constantly. This kind of shooting has never happened before. The villages are now deserted, although maybe one or two people remain. No one has been seriously injured as most have fled the village. In Auk Kyaung Taung village, four villagers were slightly injured the other day. I heard Hman Ni Pyin had been shelled. What’s important to say is that there were no reports of injuries,” he said.

 After villages on the west bank of the Mayu River were shelled, Tatmadaw troops have entered the villages. Residents from Sapho Kyun, Kan Pyin and Pyin Wun have also reportedly abandoned their villages.