Junta troops have killed at least 15 civilians and torched several hundred houses during raids on villages in Sagaing and Wetlet townships, Sagaing Region, over the past week, according to residents.
Ten villages, including Htangyi in Wetlet and nine others in Sagaing near Min Wun Hill and along the Sagaing-Shwebo road, were reportedly torched.
The Sagaing Township Information group, which documents junta atrocities in Sagaing, said: “Villages along Min Wun Hill were the first to be torched. As many as 10,000 locals there have been forced to flee their homes.”
Two columns comprising some 400 troops from the 33rd Light Infantry Division and junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militias have been raiding villages in the area since November 13.
Some 1,000 villagers were left homeless when junta troops torched more than 300 houses in Htangyi Village on November 13. A civilian and four members of the village defense force were killed in the raid.
Junta troops also killed 10 villagers in a raid on Eai Dine Village on the border of Sagaing and Madaya townships, according to a volunteer helping displaced people.
“They raided Eai Dine and accused 10 residents who were trapped in the village of being People’s Defense Force (PDF) members, before killing them when they could not answer where PDF units were based. They set the bodies on fire as they torched houses,” he said.
“Residents of some villages still can’t return home as junta troops are still in the area, so we don’t have the exact figures [for displaced people]. According to our estimate, more than 10,000 people were forced from their homes in Sagaing Township alone. More than 3,000 of them are now homeless.
On November 17, junta troops set fire to almost all 140 houses in Singaing (North) Village, two houses in Singaing (South) Village, plus another house in Htee Hlaing Village in Sagaing Township.
The following day, 113 houses in Taung Yin Village (North), nine houses in Taung Yin (South), and 32 houses in New Taung Yin Village were burnt down near Min Wun Hill in Sagaing, according to residents.
A Mingun resident said: “Min Wun Hill and Mingun are ancient and religious communities. Locals lived laid-back lives here until junta troops raided the villages for no reason. Taung Yin is a relatively well-off village even during the current crisis. This was the first time it has been torched by the military. Locals had never experienced this before and they fled into the nearby forest.”
Junta troops stationed in Ywar Nan Village in Wetlet are engaged in frequent clashes with local PDFs.
The PDFs have warned people not to travel near Min Wun Hill or along the Sagaing-Wetlet-Shwebo road.