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Pa-O Activists Blame 66 Civilian Deaths on Myanmar Junta

ArakanPa-O Activists Blame 66 Civilian Deaths on Myanmar Junta

A total of 66 civilian deaths have been reported in the Pa-O autonomous region of southern Shan State during three months of fighting by the Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO).

Most were killed by junta shelling, airstrikes and deaths in detention, the PYO said on Monday.

Clashes between the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA) and the regime and the allied Pa-O National Army (PNA) first broke out at Sam Hpu village in Hopong Township on January 21.

The PNLA, which signed the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement, seized Hsi Hseng town on January 24.

It was the first time the PNLA had attacked a junta-controlled town.

The regime has since tried to retake Hsi Hseng.

During 91 days of Pa-O clashes, the regime fired over 2,929 shells, launched more than 462 airstrikes, killed 66 civilians, including 11 children, and injured 79 other civilians, according to the PYO

Most of the children were killed in villages away from the fighting, it said.

Children injured by a junta airstrike in Hsi Hseng Township away from fighting on February 14. / The Voice

More than 71,150 civilians from Hsi Hseng, Hopong, Pinlaung and Nyaung Shwe townships have reportedly been displaced.

The PYO reported 53,000 people were displaced from Hsi Hseng, 15,000 from Pinlaung, 1,000 from Hopong and 2,150, not including Karenni civilians, from Nyaung Shwe.

Some civilians were allegedly forced to return home by regime forces and the PNA.

The regime and PNA forced Hsi Hseng civilians to return home on February 29 amid ongoing clashes in the town.

“Some villagers were warned to pay [around US$140) as a fine if they didn’t return home. The PNA also threatened to confiscate their homes if they refused to go,” a Pa-O source said.

In Kaung Mu Bwar village, around 5km from Hsi Hseng, and Htee Man, north of the town, villagers returned home rather than pay the PNA troops, she said.

The two villages are inside the war zone with shells and drone bombs exploding frequently, she added.

The PNA troops ordered villagers to send food.

Two children were seriously injured by landmines, said PYO.

Some returning villagers were seriously injured by landmines.

In the Pa-O region during three months of fighting, 18 civilians were killed by shelling, 16 in airstrikes and 16 were killed in detention, the PYO reported.

The PYO reported that in Hsi Hseng, 562 homes, 25 religious buildings, 12 schools, four hospitals or clinics and one market were destroyed by the junta and PNA.

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