Junta Forces Continue to Torch Villages in Upper Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 7 June 2022

Over 180 houses in Sagaing Region were burned down on Monday as regime forces continued to torch villages in Kantbalu Township, according to locals and resistance groups.

On Monday morning, a detachment of 80 junta soldiers who have been stationed at Koehtaungboh Village for two months started torching houses in nearby Hnal Kone Village, said Koehtaungboh Revolution, a local news page.

Some 40 houses were burned down in the arson attack, including the homes of both resistance fighters and supporters of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, according to the news page.

Regime forces also torched over 140 houses in Shawphyukone Village in Kantbalu, a village of 250 homes.

Koehtaungboh People’s Defense Force (PDF) said that junta soldiers burned down another four houses in nearby Khunkone Village on Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, regime troops also torched houses in nearby Kine Village, and subsequently detained 60 villagers in the sun for two hours as punishment for trying to put out the fire, Koehtaungboh Revolution said.

On June 1, a family of three including a child died when junta soldiers randomly shelled the residential areas of Koehtaungboh Village with 60mm mortar shells, said the Kantbalu Tiger Rangers, a local resistance group.

Following the mortar attack, a combined force of local resistance groups attacked the junta troops in the village on June 2 and 3. The PDFs were forced to retreat after they were attacked by three helicopter gunships.

Junta forces have escalated their raids and arson attacks in townships across Sagaing, which remains a stronghold of armed resistance to the military regime. Mobile phone and internet service has also been cut across rural Sagaing.

Data for Myanmar, an independent group monitoring junta atrocities, reported on Monday that an estimated 18,886 houses and buildings had been burned down in regime arson attacks since the coup and up to the end of May.

Sagaing has suffered the most, losing an estimated 13,840 houses.

The monitoring group said that the actual number of houses torched by regime forces is more than their reported figures due to insufficient information on the ground.

Myanmar think tank The Institute for Strategy and Policy, said recently that an estimated 22,299 houses and buildings had been burned down up to May 26. Of those, 15,530 were in Sagaing Region.

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