Myanmar junta troops have detained a number of villagers from Abaung Thar Village in Chin State’s Paletwa Township for interrogation, according to residents.
The villagers were detained on Monday following fighting near the village between junta troops and the Arakan Army (AA) on May 26, said a villager.
“We have fled since they [regime forces] came to the village and we still don’t know what is happening in the village now. Junta troops are still inside the village and we dare not go back. We heard villagers were questioned and that the village administrator and five villagers were blindfolded and taken to Light Infantry Battalion 289 where they are being interrogated,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Abaung Thar Village is located near Mt. Suu Poke some five miles from Paletwa Town, and has over 100 households that are home to Chin and Rakhine people.
An ethnic Chin man from Paletwa said: “The village has two parts. One part is occupied by Khumi people of the Chin ethnic group and the other is occupied by Rakhine people. I heard soldiers are deployed in the village and interrogating them. Mainly they are questioning them about the AA. In fact, they know the locations of the AA bases. They don’t need to cause trouble to villagers.”
Two of the five villagers detained have been released, but three others and the village administrator were taken away by helicopter on Thursday.
Social organizations in Paletwa said details of what happened are unknown as the two released villagers have gone into hiding.
On May 26, a number of junta soldiers were killed and injured when AA fighters ambushed reinforcements from the Kyauktaw-based Light Infantry Battalion 375 heading to the military regime outpost at the base of Mt. Suu Poke, said locals.
Regime soldiers have since surrounded Paletwa Town and imposed strict checks on people entering and leaving the town. The junta has also restricted water transport between Paletwa and Kyauktaw in neighboring Rakhine State, on which Paletwa heavily relies for supplies of food and other commodities.
Military tensions are running high between the regime and the AA as the junta increases its military presence in Rakhine and Chin states. A submarine and other navy vessels arrived recently at Danyawaddy naval base in Kyaukphyu Township.