Burma

Myanmar Regime Isolates Western Town of Paletwa Following Bomb Blasts

By The Irrawaddy 1 June 2021

The military regime has isolated Chin State’s Paletwa following bomb blasts in the town last week, restricting the movement of local residents.

Two bombs exploded outside the township’s General Administration Department and Myanma Economic Bank at around 7 a.m. on May 28 in downtown Paletwa. Since then, the regime has arrested some local residents and isolated the town.

“In response to the bomb blasts, locals are not allowed to leave the town. And people from elsewhere are also not allowed to enter. The military has blocked the roads. They’re also not allowing boats from other villages to come to the town. They have cut our town off by road and by water,” a Paletwa resident told The Irrawaddy.

A military officer met departmental officials and some local residents on May 29 and angrily informed them that the military would cut the town off in order to conduct an investigation into the bomb blasts, and told locals to cooperate with the investigation.

The military arrested 16 local residents including the chairman of the Khumi Literature and Culture Committee. It has released six of them, but the other 10 remain in detention.

Food prices have soared since the military regime restricted access to the town, a female resident of Ywama ward said.

“They have even prohibited boats from crossing the river to the opposite bank of Paletwa. Food prices have soared. While we are experiencing financial hardship [due to the post-coup turmoil in the country], we have to pay 1,000 kyats [about US$0.60] for three eggs here,” she said. The normal price in Yangon is between 100 and 150 kyats per egg.

“The prices of basic foodstuffs including rice, oil and salt have all increased. I am afraid we won’t be able to buy food soon,” she said.

Paletwa’s three wards are home to 20,000 mostly ethnic Chin, Khumi and Rakhine people.

The Civilian Defense Force (Paletwa) formed by local civilian resistance fighters released a statement on Monday denying responsibility for the bomb blasts. The defense force said it would not engage in activities that cause public panic.

It also called for the immediate release of local residents arrested by the military regime on suspicion of involvement in the blasts.

Paletwa experienced killings and arrests of local residents in 2020 during fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army. The town was also cut off during the fighting.


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