POWs Reveal Names of Junta Captains Who Reduced Chin Town of 10,000 to Ashes

By The Irrawaddy 13 February 2023

Regime forces held as prisoners of war have revealed that three army captains led repeated arson and looting attacks on Chin State’s mountaintop town of Thantlang, according to a local resistance group.

The information was disclosed by six junta personnel including policemen who were arrested by combined troops of the Chinland Defense Force-Thantlang (CDF-Thantlang) and the Chin National Army, the armed wing of Chin National Front (CNF), during a raid on regime forces stationed at a bank in Thantlang on Feb.1.

The detainees identified the captains behind the attacks in an interview with the CNF’s Chinland Information Center (CIC).

Thantlang’s entire population of around 10,000 residents was driven out of the town when the junta began bombarding the town with artillery in retaliation for attacks by Chin resistance in September 2021.

The town was reduced to ashes after regime forces burned almost all of its 13,00 houses and religious buildings in 35 arson attacks between 2021 and June 2022.

Gutted buildings in the deserted town of Thantlang are seen last week.  Photo/ Salai Tial Hram Ling

In a video interview with the CIC, regime forces said two army captains – named as Saw Ye Hmue Aung and Hein Myat Soe – and another captain from a police station and hilltop junta outpost led their units to loot and torch houses in the town.

“Captain Saw Ye Hmue Aung lived at the junta camp on Phayar Kone hill. He and his squad conducted urban operations in the town and torched houses,” a detained policeman who manned the station at the time of the attacks told the CIC.

The policeman added that he had personally witnessed junta troops torching and destroying houses in the town.

Another detainee said army captain Hein Myat Soe used the same police station as a base to launch urban operations and arson attacks in Thantlang.

“Besides the arson attacks, they [military units] looted belongings of fleeing residents from the houses. We [police officers] were called in to carry the loot when they could not carry it by themselves,” the second detainee said.

CNF and CDF-Thantlang troops raided and occupied the town’s police station last Thursday, killing four regime personnel and seizing dozens of weapons and ammunition.

The junta bombed the town and surrounding areas with five fighter jets in retaliation. More reinforcements were also sent to the town to reoccupy the police station.