Civilian Houses Torched by Myanmar Junta After Resistance Attacks on Military Ships

By The Irrawaddy 3 February 2022

The homes of around 4,000 villagers from six Sagaing Region townships were burned down across at least 14 villages in late January, according to residents.

During operations against people’s defense forces (PDF), Myanmar’s regime troops have torched houses in Tabayin, Pale, Mingin, Kani, Shwebo and Khin-U townships between Jan. 22 and 31.

On Monday evening, over 100 regime troops burned down almost all the 250 houses in Hmawet Ton village in Pale Township after occupying the village without being attacked, villagers told The Irrawaddy.

“My house was burned down. Pigs and cows died in the fire. I have nothing left. I fled with only the clothes I was wearing,” the villager said.

Residents and PDFs said the junta troops accused the villagers of helping the resistance forces despite no PDF attacks taking place in the area.

Around 1,000 villagers fled their homes.

Residents flee Mingin Township in Sagaing
Region on Sunday, fearing junta raids. / Bo Thanlone

Food, harvested crops, seeds and farming machinery were also destroyed, according to the villagers.

“We don’t know how to make a living now,” said another villager who lost his house.

On Monday regime troops burned about a quarter of adjacent Pann village’s 800 houses. More than 1,000 villagers fled their homes.

Residents have abandoned three other villages in the area.

On Sunday, regime soldiers and allied militias burned houses in Inmahtee in Pale Township while they were trapped in the village by a resistance attack, according to Pale PDF.

After torching houses, troops called in airstrikes against resistance fighters, said Pale PDF.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.

On Monday, after sustaining heavy losses during clashes with Kani PDF, around 200 members of Phyu Saw Htee, a militia trained and armed by the military, and junta troops supporting a military flotilla of eight vessels burned houses in four villages in Mingin Township.

During the raids, regime forces torched more than 150 houses out of 200 in Binkyun village and burned around 34 houses in three nearby villages, according to Mingin PDF.

Around 36 Binkyun villagers, including several older residents and children, were taken away by regime forces. The flotilla is currently being attacked by Mingin PDF.

Since Jan. 22, Kani resistance forces have repeatedly attacked the flotilla, which is reportedly transporting food, ammunition and firearms north along the Chindwin River. It departed Monywa on Jan 22.

Ngawel Taw village in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region, on Monday after a regime raid. / Bo Zaya Squad

After being ambushed by Kani PDF, troops torched 31 houses in Natgyi village on the banks of the Chindwin on Jan. 23.

Troops burned 11 houses and killed a villager who suffered from a mental illness in Motehtaw village on Jan. 22 after the flotilla was ambushed by PDFs.

On Monday, troops burned houses in two villages in western Tabayin Township during unprovoked raids, according to Bo Zaya Squad, a Tabayin resistance group.

On Jan. 24 and 25, the regime forces also burned down Ywarzoe and Pauk Chaung villages in the west of Shwebo Township after being ambushed by combined resistance forces.

Due to the junta raids, around 15,000 residents from over 10 villages have fled into forests or to nearby villages, Shwebo or other urban areas, residents said.

On Jan. 26, the regime forces torched houses and killed four villagers during a raid on Shwe Yamin village in Khin-U Township, according to the Khin-U Real News webpage.

A civilian resistance fighter recently told The Irrawaddy:

“The more civilian houses they destroy, the more people revolt. People who have lost everything have joined the resistance.”

The junta is facing attacks from PDFs and many ethnic armed groups across the country, except in Rakhine State, which is largely under the control of the Arakan Army.

The regime’s atrocities continue with torture, arbitrary killings, burning alive, massacres, using civilian detainees as human shields, shelling residential areas and looting and burning houses, especially in Magwe and Sagaing regions and Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayah and Karen states.

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