By Myanmar Now
SIX locals were killed during a shootout between the Myanmar military and a civilian-led security team in Kani Township, Sagaing Region, on Thursday evening, Myanmar Now reported today (April 17).
The security team – made up of locals armed with hunting rifles – was standing watch after hearing news that detained protesters were being relocated from their area, and wanted to intercept the trucks in which they were being transported.
A member of the security team told Myanmar Now that they had set up checkpoints on the Monywa-Kani road and were planning to stop the prisoner transport vehicles.
“We heard news that they were relocating about 70 protesters including protest leaders who were captured here,” he said.
One military truck drove through the checkpoint without stopping. Soon after, some 12 trucks arrived at the scene and opened fire on the locals at around 4 p.m. The shootout continued until around 8 p.m.
The six men killed were Kyaw Hlaing Win, Zin Ko, Ko Naing, Aung Naing Moe, Tin Ohn and Win Ko. They were from Thaminset, Lal Shae and Bant Bwe Myauk villages.
A monk from Thaminset village was also arrested, and around 20 people went missing during the shootout.
The military may have suffered casualties in the clash, as locals used hunting rifles to fight back against the junta’s troops, but Myanmar Now was unable to confirm further details at the time of reporting.
Since Friday, soldiers have been stopping and interrogating passersby in areas along the Kani-Monywa road, claiming they are doing so for security purposes.
Anti-regime protests in Kani stopped after two protesters were killed in a military crackdown in early April. However, locals in the area have said that they are ready to defend themselves against the junta’s armed forces with any weapons available to them, including hunting rifles commonly used in the area.
In Tamu and Kalay, in western Sagaing, locals have been using the same weaponry to oppose the coup regime’s suppression of their movement.
According to monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, some 728 people have been killed by the junta’s armed forces since the February 1 military coup in Myanmar.
Meanwhile Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing will be attending an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia on April 24, Reuters quoted a Thai foreign ministry spokesman said as saying today, in a report published by MSN News.
Myanmar’s neighbours have been trying to encourage talks between the rival sides to resolve the crisis but the military has shown little willingness to engage with them or talk to the ousted government.
Several leaders of the 10-member Asean, of which Myanmar is a member, had confirmed their attendance at the meeting in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, including Min Aung Hlaing, the Thai spokesman, Tanee Sangrat, said.
A spokesman for the Myanmar junta did not answer calls seeking comment.
Myanmar’s ousted government is likely to decry the junta chief’s participation in the meeting.
Pro-democracy politicians, including ousted members of parliament, announced the formation of a National Unity Government (NUG) on Friday, including Suu Kyi and leaders of the anti-coup protests and ethnic minorities.
The NUG says it is the legitimate political authority. It has called for international recognition and for Asean to reject Min Aung Hlaing’s participation in the meeting and to invite it instead.
Earlier today, the junta released 23,184 prisoners from jails across the country under a New Year amnesty, a Prisons Department spokesman said, though few if any democracy activists arrested since the coup were thought to be among them.
Top: A crackdown by the military’s armed forces in Yangon on March 2. Photo: Myanmar Now
Home Page: Monks in Mandalay protest against the military regime and show support for the CRPH on February 27. Photo: Myanmar Now