Junta troops stormed 20 villages in Tigyaing township over three days this week, burning down over 400 houses as their arson campaign continued in Myanmar’s Sagaing region.
Local residents told RFA around 300 troops took part in the campaign, prompting more than 10,000 people to abandon their homes ahead of the raids.
The latest wave of arson attacks began early on Tuesday morning when troops stormed and burned Aung Thar Kone village. Locals said more than 1,000 people abandoned three nearby villages on hearing about the raid.
Troops continued their raids on Wednesday and Thursday, burning homes in villages – including 40 houses in Lay Thar Kone and Inn Tein – forcing thousands more residents to flee.
A local, who declined to be named for security reasons, told RFA a soldier shot and killed a man in his 80s, identified as Sein Maung, after entering Inn Tein village Thursday.
“He was planting crops in the field. He might have gone to see his sons and been shot dead. They said the junta soldier took 400,000 Myanmar Kyat (U.S.$190) from him,” the local said.
Junta spokesman for Sagaing region Aye Hlaing, who is also the military regime’s regional social affairs minister, told RFA he was unaware of any killings or arson and was not authorized to speak on such issues for security reasons.
Fighting has intensified in Myanmar’s northernmost region in the 22 months since the military toppled the country’s democratically elected government. The fighting has forced people from their homes leading to 616,500 being displaced in Sagaing since the coup, according to a Dec. 3 statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.