Nearly 2,000 villagers in western Myanmar’s Chin State have been displaced by fighting between junta troops and local resistance group Chinland Defense Force-Matupi (CDF-Matupi) that erupted during the Thingyan Water Festival.
Military regime forces raided villages along the Matupi-Paletwa Road between April 10 and 16 after CDF-Matupi ambushed junta reinforcements traveling the road. The regime reinforcements reportedly consisted of approximately 300 soldiers in seven trucks who were traveling to Paletwa from Matupi, according to a leader of CDF-Matupi.
“We intercepted the junta reinforcements heading to Paletwa. After we withdrew, they raided villages and looted domestic animals as well as rice. In Wa Lan Pi Village, they torched all the silos in the village,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The two sides exchanged fire three times following ambushes and mine attacks on the junta reinforcements, said CDF-Matupi. The resistance group said ten regime soldiers were killed and five others injured during the clashes, which also left a resistance fighter wounded.
Residents from villages along the Matupi-Paletwa Road have fled into the hills for fear of retaliation and are in need of humanitarian supplies. But local aid groups are struggling to assist them, as regime forces are blocking the routes into the hills.
One member of a civil society organization based in Matupi Town said: “Villagers from six villages along the Matupi-Paletwa Road have fled. As [the regime] has cut off communication services, we can’t contact them. We want to help them, but it is difficult just to go outside Matupi Town due to safety concerns.”
The junta convoy has been delayed by the attacks from resistance fighters and has yet to reach Paletwa, which borders Rakhine State. Regime soldiers reportedly also looted trucks and motorbikes from Wa Lan Thae Village in Matupi.
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