Junta troops torch 150 houses in Sagaing region township

An 80-year-old woman is missing after a three-day arson attack on a Sagaing region village, during which junta troops burned down 150 homes, locals told RFA.

Soldiers stormed Myaung township’s Pan Nyo village on Saturday and started shooting, forcing most residents to flee for safety.

Locals said 80-year-old Tin Mi, who is paralyzed, was left behind by her family, who weren’t able to carry her to safety.

When the military column finally left on Monday night, some locals returned to put out fires, remove debris and look for survivors in the remains of their homes. Tin Mi’s house had been burned down and the men couldn’t find her.

One Pan Nyo resident told RFA she saw smoke rising from various parts of the village over the three days the troops were there.

“They burned the village after dividing it into four parts. It’s not like the smoke was coming from a single location. Five locations were smoking,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be named for safety reasons.

“At 5:30 p.m. [Monday], the military column departed. We still haven't returned. Some men from the village went back to put out the fires. They are looking for people who have gone missing.”

Pan Nyo village is home to about 4,000 people, living in around 1,000 homes, according to locals. The majority of residents still haven’t returned and are hiding in nearby woods and mountains.

Myaung township People's Defense Forces entered the village on Monday morning, fighting a 30-minute battle with the junta troops, a PDF officer told RFA Tuesday.

It’s the second time junta forces have stormed Pan Nyo. In May 2021, they set fire to 14 homes.

Sagaing region junta spokesman and social affairs minister Aye Hlaing has not responded to RFA’s requests for comment on the latest incident.

In August 2022 a spokesman said junta troops did not burn down villages and blamed local militia.

More than 27,000 houses in Sagaing region have been burned down since the military seized power in a February 2021 coup, according to figures released last month by independent research group Data for Myanmar.

Armed conflict and arson forced more than 794,000 people – 15% of Sagaing’s population – to flee their homes between Feb. 1, 2021 and Dec. 14, 2022, according to the Institute for Strategy and Policy, Myanmar.

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