Saturday, June 22, 2024

Civilian Fatalities Rising During Southern Shan State Conflict

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The Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) reported on May 28 that over 75 civilians have been killed since the conflict began just over four months ago in southern Shan State.

Of those killed, 24 were minors: 11 children under 16 years old, including one who was just a month old, and 13 children between the ages of 16 and 18. Some of the 75 people killed died by shelling, a PYO member said. They were also shot when they tried to escape the fighting, he said, or they were murdered at a military checkpoint.

Nearly 100 people, including 17 children, were injured. Among them were 17 individuals hurt while attempting to return to their village from a displaced camp.

“Pa-O Militia Force (PMF) and Military Council are exerting pressure on displaced civilians to return to their homes,” he said. Although people want to go back to their farms or when the fighting has stopped, they don’t want to return if it’s still dangerous for them.

The PYO member said the Burma army is using some villagers as human shields during the fighting and has imposed restrictions on all of the civilians’ movement.

Since the violence erupted after the Burma army and PMF attacked the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA), ending its ceasefire at the end of January, they have fought 3,000 times, according to the source. The regime has conducted 400 airstrikes against the PNLA and civilians in Hopong, Hsihseng, Panglong (ပၢင်လွင်း) townships in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone and in Nyaung Shwe Township.

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