Myanmar security forces killed at least 25 people on Friday (July 2) during a confrontation with junta opponents in the town of Depayin in Myanmar, two Myanmar residents and media said on Sunday. Sunday (July 4).
An army spokesman did not respond to calls asking for comment on the violence in Depayin in the Sagaing region, about 300km north of the capital Naypyidaw.
Myanmar’s state-run Global New Light newspaper said “armed terrorists” ambushed security forces patrolling there, killing one of them and wounding six. The newspaper said the attackers withdrew after being retaliated by security forces.
Myanmar was thrown into chaos by the February 1 coup against elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Violence and protests broke out in many places and took place almost daily in the country of more than 53 million people.
One resident, who declined to reveal Depayin’s identity, said four military trucks dropped soldiers at the village early Friday.
Young people from the local People’s Self-Defense Force, formed to resist the government, tried to fight off the army. However, they had only makeshift weapons and were overwhelmed by the stronger firepower of the security forces, residents said.
“Many people died in the fields and by the railway. They (soldiers) shoot at everything that moves,” another resident said.
A total of 25 bodies were collected after the fighting, both residents said.
The BBC Burmese website and the Than Lwin Khet News service also have similar reports. Meanwhile, Myanmar Now news website put the death toll at no less than 31 people and said about 10,000 people had fled the area.
The Depayin People’s Self-Defense Force said on its Facebook page that 18 of its members were killed and 11 wounded.
The People’s Self-Defense Force was formed by opponents of the government in many parts of Myanmar. Some of these are affiliated with the Government of National Unity, which is seen as a rival to the military junta.
About two dozen ethnic armed groups have fought for decades in Myanmar’s border regions, but Depayin is at the heart of the Bamar ethnic group, which often leads the armed forces.
The United Nations says the violence since the coup has forced more than 230,000 people from their homes. The agency also said more than 880 people have been killed by security forces since the coup and more than 5,200 are in custody.
Military authorities said these numbers were not true, but did not give their own numbers.
In another challenge to authorities, Myanmar recorded 2,318 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.