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February 21, 2024

Myanmar military uses 40 civilians as human shields

Junta troops used around 40 civilians as human shields during a battle between People’s Defense Forces in a township in Myanmar’s central Mandalay region according to residents and members of a local militia.

The locals were captured during a battle Thursday between junta forces and pro-democracy militias in Madaya township. Locals told RFA half were released, many of them elderly, but the rest are still being detained.

A column of around 30 junta troops was attacked by People’s Defense Forces and the Kaung Kin militia Thursday morning.

Another 70-member military column came to support the junta forces using civilians as human shields, according to a People’s Defense Force member, who didn’t want to be named.

“When the junta column arrived at Po Wa North village, we attacked,” he told RFA.

“After they were severely hit, more reinforcements came in.

“The column that came to reinforce them had around 40 civilians with it, divided into groups of about three or four, mixed with the soldiers.

“We prepared to resist with guns and artillery but we had to retreat because they had civilians with them.” 

The militia member said the troops had not yet left the township but are camping in villages about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away.

Locals said troops shelled the area Thursday, injuring a 50-year-old woman and destroying three buildings in Sin Kone village.

Local People’s Defense Forces say they killed 13 troops in Thursday’s battle but RFA has not been able to confirm their claims.

Calls to Mandalay region’s junta spokesman, Thein Htay, went unanswered Friday.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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