Regime Soldiers Torch Nine Villages and Kill Monk in Upper Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 26 April 2022

Myanmar junta troops torched nine villages in Sagaing Region’s Wuntho Township on the weekend, killing three civilians including a Buddhist monk who urged them not to burn houses, according to local residents.

Four of the nine villages were razed to the ground, locals said.

“Junta troops are torching villages in Kawlin and Wuntho as they have suffered heavy casualties. We could do nothing. We dared not go back to our village until the junta troops left, by which time our houses had been reduced to ashes,” said a resident of Sein Lel Village.

Some 30,000 people from more than 40 villages in Kawlin and Wuntho townships have been displaced by fighting this month.

On Saturday, around 80 military regime soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 111 based in Wuntho arrived near Sein Lel Village where they clashed with local resistance groups. Five junta soldiers were killed in the fighting, according to one of the groups, Wuntho Revolution.

Junta troops then raided several villages nearby, firing heavy guns and torching houses.

“We clashed with junta troops near Sein Lel Village early Saturday morning. They then shelled and raided villages and torched houses. Villagers have fled the raids. A female villager died in one of the fires,” said one fighter from Wuntho Revolution.

“Another woman was shot dead in Thabyay Thar Village, and the abbot of the village monastery who told the junta soldiers not to torch houses was also gunned down,” he added.

Regime forces also reportedly abducted four villagers from three different villages as potential human shields. They were still in junta detention on Tuesday.

More than 10,000 locals have been displaced by the weekend raids, and it is still unknown how many houses were destroyed by the junta arson attacks.

“They torched Sein Lel and then nearby villages one after another. The regime has cut off access to internet services for months in those places. And we have not been able to contact some villages by phone after the raids. We still don’t know the exact number of houses damaged or destroyed. Some people have to stay at the houses of their relatives and some have to stay on farms,” said a local humanitarian worker.

On Monday, junta troops and resistance groups also clashed near a mountain in Wuntho. Casualties are unknown. Regime forces have also launched attacks in the east of Kawlin Township, forcing residents of at least four villages to flee.

Clashes have been reported near villages on the border of Sagaing and Kachin State. Locals said junta troops are torching villages in retaliation after suffering heavy casualties in fighting near Joe Taung Village on April 21.

Data for Myanmar, which documents junta arson attacks, said 9,187 houses have been burned down since last year’s coup in 254 locations nationwide up to April 13.

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