Junta forces continued to raid villages in Myanmar’s Sagaing region this week, killing a 60-year-old man and setting fire to hundreds of houses.
Chit Win, from a village in Kani township, was arrested by troops and ordered to guide them along a local highway.
“About nine villagers were taken hostage by the troops along the way but I heard that only Chit Win was killed,” said a local who asked not to be named for safety reasons.
The army is advancing in two columns into Kani and Yinmarbin townships, where there is strong armed resistance to the regime. The two military columns are traveling very closely together allowing them to join forces in a pincer movement.
One group burned homes in Yinmarbin’s Yin Paung Taing village in a four-day raid that began on Aug. 11. Around 20 villagers’ bodies were discovered after troops left the village.
The military column continued to raid villages in Yinmarbin and Kani townships this week.
A Monday raid on three villages forced hundreds of locals to flee, former residents told RFA.
The other military column traveled along the Chindwin River and raided three villages in Phaung Byin township, locals said.
On Tuesday, troops fired heavy artillery shells at Tha Ngar village.
“The army fired from up and downstream using six naval boats,” a local, who also asked to remain anonymous, told RFA.
“On August 24 the boats went up the river and docked at Kalewa. Security was tightened, then a military column with about 80 soldiers came ashore and occupied a monastery and a three-story building in Tha Nga village. They burned down more than 200 of the 500 houses in the village,” he said.
RFA’s calls to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Sagaing region spokesman Aye Hlaing went unanswered on Wednesday.
On Aug. 1, junta leader Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing gave a speech saying there could be no negotiation with terrorists and the military would fight back, in comments seen as referring to the shadow National Unity Government and People’s Defense Forces (PDFs). He also said the junta wanted to hold elections once fighting had been brought under control.
Sagaing residents say the junta does not differentiate between civilians and PDFs. They say attacks on villages by land, water and air are taking place because the junta considers Sagaing the region with the strongest armed opposition to the military and believes that villagers are sheltering PDFs.