An estimated 7,000 Mon State civilians have fled their homes amid Myanmar junta raids, indiscriminate shelling and an arson attack on a village in Thaton Township, according to people’s defense forces (PDFs) and the Karen National Union (KNU).
It was the first regime arson attack on civilian properties in Mon State.
Around 300 regime and Karen State Border Guard Force troops occupied Htone Bo Lay village and burned down houses on Saturday amid attacks from the Bilin and Thaton PDFs and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU.
The PDFs said they lacked ammunition to stop junta troops occupying the village.
More than 1,000 villagers have abandoned their homes since early June as Infantry Battalion 9 shelled Htone Bo Lay for days.
Since an arson attack on the village, more than 7,000 residents from six nearby villages had fled their homes by Saturday, Saw Taryar, a Thaton PDF spokesman, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
He said nearly half of the 200 houses in the villages were burned down by regime forces.
Aerial photos show the village burning.
Villagers are mainly sheltering in forests and nearby villages.
Tents, food and medicines are required for the fleeing villagers in the forest,” Saw Taryar said. “Our revolution is about the whole country. Rural communities are suffering the worst at the moment but urban areas will suffer more atrocities soon. People should donate to the PDFs and ethnic resistance armies to gain victory,” he said.
Regime forces are stationed at adjacent Htone Bo Gyi village, according to the Thaton PDF.
Clashes have occurred in the area since early June when resistance troops regularly ambushed convoys carrying junta reinforcements.
On June 1, the resistance detained a Battalion 9 captain and sergeant at Htone Bo Gyi.
Six regime soldiers were killed and five others injured when resistance fighters ambushed infantry troops on June 2, according to the KNU.
In response, the infantry battalion bombarded Htone Bo Gyi and Htone Bo Lay for days.
Faced with daily attacks from PDFs and ethnic armed groups, regime forces have committed atrocities, burning alive and arbitrarily killing civilians, massacres, using civilians as human shields, aerial bombing and shelling residential areas and looting and burning houses, especially in Sagaing, Mandalay and Magwe regions and Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayah and Karen states.