published : 2023-09-25

Deadly Ambush in Burma: Dozens of Local Resistance Fighters Killed by Army

Military junta silent on reported attack

A photo of peaceful protesters waving flags in Burma's streets, captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

In a devastating ambush, approximately two dozen members of local resistance forces in central Burma lost their lives as they bravely attempted to evacuate villagers ahead of an anticipated military attack.

The attack took place near Chay Yar Taw village in Sagaing region’s Myinmu township, marking one of the deadliest confrontations in the ongoing conflict since the army seized power in February 2021.

Ever since the army's takeover, Burma has been engulfed in mass nonviolent protests, met with deadly force from the military and police. As a result, the once nonviolent resistance has transformed into a full-scale civil war, as described by U.N. experts.

The army's aggression has been particularly rampant in Sagaing, where they have conducted major offensives, including burning villages and displacing countless people from their homes. It is within this context that various loosely organized resistance groups, collectively known as the People's Defense Force (PDF), have emerged to stand against the military rule.

An image of local resistance fighters standing strong against the military, taken with a Nikon D850.

The PDF, along with established armed ethnic minority groups, has formed alliances across the country, aiming to combat the central government's oppression by seeking greater autonomy in border regions.

According to San Shar, a spokesperson for the Black Eagle Defense Force, the fatal ambush occurred on Friday night around 8 p.m. While evacuating hundreds of civilians from Kyawt Min village to safer locations, the resistance groups were tragically caught off guard by the military's covert operation. The soldiers, dressed as civilians, easily captured and mercilessly killed the brave resistance fighters, who were ill-equipped compared to their heavily armed assailants.

Although he did not witness the killings, a member of the Black Eagle Defense Force, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, believes that the resistance fighters were shot dead at the scene on Friday night and early Saturday. Miraculously, two PDF members managed to escape the clutches of the soldiers.

Upon reaching the scene the next morning, PDF members discovered their fallen comrades with gunshot wounds to their heads, their bodies piled up on the street where they were initially arrested. The harrowing sight indicated signs of torture, suggesting the extreme brutality inflicted upon them.

A powerful photograph of a group of ethnic minority members united in their fight for autonomy, captured on a Sony Alpha A7 III.

The military government, however, has made no official acknowledgment of this tragic incident. Reports by military sympathizers on the social media platform Telegram confirm that 25 members of local PDF groups were ambushed and killed near Chay Yar Taw, with motorcycles, cars, and weapons seized as well.

Restricted reporting under the military government makes it challenging to independently verify the details of the attack. Nonetheless, other independent Burmese media outlets and social media platforms have shared reports and images of the victims, further corroborating the heartbreaking event.

The deadly ambush serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing violence and injustice gripping Burma. Despite the silence of the military junta, the sacrifice of these brave resistance fighters will not be forgotten, fueling the determination of those who continue to fight for justice, freedom, and the restoration of democracy in Burma.