Junta troops raided villages in Sagaing Region in response to the blowing up of the main power cable supplying the Chinese-owned Wanbao Mining Company on Friday by Salingyi Township resistance fighters.
About 70 regime soldiers stormed Nyaung Pin Gyi village in Salingyi near the power line on Monday morning and looted houses.
“The villagers fled last week. Soldiers took valuables and broke televisions and anything else they could not carry,” said a villager.
On Friday, Mi Myay special task force and Young People’s Force said they destroyed the cable because the Chinese firm is housing and feeding regime troops who loot homes and arrest and kill civilians.
A villager said: “This morning large numbers of troops came to tighten security near the bombed power line while it is repaired.”
Since June 21 approximately 10,000 civilians from 20 villages near the mine have fled their homes.
The Northwestern Command in Monywa sent another 150 reinforcements to Wanbao on Thursday.
A 38-year-old female Tone villager told The Irrawaddy that villagers fled without their belongings when troops arrived firing rifles and using explosives on Thursday.
“Five minutes after I realized they had arrived the shooting and explosions began. I fled for my life. I could not take any belongings,” she said.
She said she is sheltering with relatives in a village far from Wanbao. Some of her neighbors are missing.
Approximately 10,000 people from 20 villages, including Kyauk Phyu Taing, Sel Tai Maung, Moe Gyo Pyin North, Sel Tai Ywar Haung, Magyi, Laungtakar, Kyi Pin Htoo, Ohn Nae Pot, Pon Ywar Thit, Pon, Ton A Lel Taw, Ton Taw Kyaung, Ywar Thit and Ywar Ma, have left their homes.
Last week, soldiers based at Wanbao tortured and cut up two villagers and torched around 70 houses in Moe Gyo Pyin North. They detained approximately 100 Sel Tai Maung villagers at the monastery and released them after resistance forces attacked the Wanbao mine.
On Thursday approximately 200 regime soldiers torched Pone Pwar Thit and shot eight villagers who tried to extinguish the fire. Three died.
Wanbao has been operating the controversial Letpadaung copper mine, in partnership with the military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings Company, since 2010.
Heavy protests against the mine began in 2012 after land was seized and the environmental damage became evident. Villagers demanded compensation. In 2014 a woman was killed and many others, including monks, were injured in a crackdown by the security forces.
In April, 16 Sagaing Region resistance forces warned the Chinese-run copper mine to halt operations as the groups said they would not allow joint ventures between Myanmar’s regime and Chinese companies to operate in the region while people are fighting to uproot the dictatorship.
In May the firm has expressed “deep concerns” in response to the threats.
Following the warning, the regime increased security at the mine and imposed tighter restrictions on residents.