Junta raids on villages in Sagaing region’s Chaung-U township have left four people dead. Nearly 500 homes were torched in the attacks, according to locals.
On Saturday morning, around 100 junta troops fired heavy artillery before entering Ngar Lone Tin village. An eyewitness said that nearly 300 houses were burned down and charred bodies were later discovered.
“One body that we can identify was found in Nga Lone Tin village and two bodies that cannot be identified are still under investigation. Civilian or not, those two bodies were burnt and mutilated,” a local told RFA on condition of anonymity for safety reasons. “The first body was that of a man in his thirties who lives in the northern part of the village. His name is Yan Aung. He was shot in the head.”
Later that day, junta troops raided Ma Hti Thar village, burning down more than 200 houses according to a local, who also declined to be named.
“Originally our village had more than 600 houses but that grew to almost 800,” the local said. “More than 200 houses have been burned now. The doors and zinc roofs of brick-built houses in the middle of the village were destroyed. The rest of the huts were completely turned to ash. Now the men are going back to the village to clean up and put out the remaining fires. The women still haven’t returned.”
Fighting between junta troops and the local People’s Defense Force (PDF) erupted the previous day, near Hman Cho village, leaving one local dead.
A spokesman for the Chaung-U PDF said troops raided ten villages in the township on Friday and Saturday, forcing 20,000 locals to flee.
“In the past the military columns entered the villages and burned them before leaving,” he told RFA. “Now they burn [homes] as soon as they enter the villages and then station troops there. The troops shoot when we enter the villages to put out the fires… so we have to retreat.”
Troops from four army divisions have been raiding the villages in Chaung-U, according to the PDF spokesman.
RFA contacted Aye Hlaing, State Administration Council (SAC) spokesman for the Sagaing regional government, by phone on Sunday regarding the raids and arson attacks but he refused to comment.
SAC Chairman, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said during an August meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Rapporteur for Myanmar his troops did not burn down houses and blamed it on local PDFs.
However, Data for Myanmar, which has been monitoring arson attacks, said junta troops have burned down 20,153 houses in Sagaing region between the Feb. 1, 2021 coup and Aug. 25 this year.
A report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Oct. 1, said 545,200 civilians in Sagaing region have been forced to flee to safety due to fighting since the coup.
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