The Myanmar junta’s brutal arson campaign continues in the country’s northern Sagaing region, with at least 385 homes in Khin-U township set on fire since late last week.
Two military columns raided seven villages between Friday and Sunday morning. On Monday, they turned their attention to Saw Gyi village in northern Khin-U, which burned more houses.
“This morning they entered the village by shelling it,” a resident told RFA Burmese. “Saw Gyi was ablaze around 10:45 am and everyone fled. A junta column spent the night in Ma Daung Hla village. The junta column from the south of Khin-U reached the [government] Workers’ housing in the east of [the township] this morning,” said the local, who declined to give his name for security reasons. He said it’s still unclear how many houses were burned down in Saw Gyi.
The military column raiding the southern part of Khin-U township also occupied Paung Hle Kone village on November 18-19 and burned 136 houses. A 70-year-old woman who couldn’t walk was burned and a 50-year-old man died of a heart attack after an artillery blast, according to locals.
On November 20, troops burned down 90 houses in the village of Let Pan Gyi. They also torched 13 houses in Let Yet Kone village in Shwebo township, the scene of a junta attack on a school in September that the UN described as a war crime.
Another 146 houses in four villages were burned to the ground in northern Khin-U commune, according to locals. RFA could not confirm the claims.
Aye Hlaing, spokeswoman for Sagaing State Administrative Council, who is also the region’s social affairs minister, told RFA he was unaware of the incidents. He said the internet was disrupted by the destruction of communication towers in Khin-U township and phone lines were also unreliable.
A total of 1,856 houses from 47 villages in Khin-U Municipality were torched by junta forces between the Feb. 1, 2021, and late October 2022 coup, according to residents and local People’s Defense Forces (PDFs). They said 218 people, including PDF members, were killed.
About 612,400 residents of the Sagaing region have been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict over the past 21 months, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Oct. 31.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Written in English by Mike Firn.