More than 4,000 residents have been forced out of their homes in six Sagaing region villages due to fighting between the army and local defense forces.
The battle broke out Sunday near Pale township’s Hnaw Kan village. Junta troops entered the village on Monday and burned down houses, a resident told RFA on condition of anonymity.
“People are fleeing and only seven houses are left in Hnaw Kan village,” the villager said.
Hnaw Kan village had more than 200 houses before the attack, residents said.
It’s not known which battalion torched the village, but locals said it was an army column with 200 soldiers reinforced by the Pyu Saw Htee militia.
They said the troops are now stationed in Pale township’s Min Taing Pin village.
The junta has not issued a statement on the incident and calls to Sagaing region junta spokesperson Aye Hlaing went unanswered.
In the past the junta’s top spokesperson, Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun said soldiers do not burn civilian homes.
Junta chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing also denied his troops had burned villages, during a meeting with U.N. Special Envoy for Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, in August last year.
According to independent research group Data for Myanmar, as of March 19, a total of 2,656 houses were destroyed by fire in Pale township, Sagaing region over the more than two years since the military coup.
Sagaing region has been hardest hit by junta slash and burn tactics of all the states and regions in Myanmar. Almost 4,400 civilian houses were burned down across the country in March alone, including more than 3,000 houses in Sagaing region, the shadow National Unity Government announced on April 1. [RFA/NS]