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February 21, 2024

Myanmar military’s 3-day arson attack forces 10,000 people to flee

Around 10,000 villagers in two townships have abandoned their homes as junta troops continued scorched earth operations in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, locals told RFA.

A column of around 100 troops started burning houses in Yinmarbin township on Monday and attacked villages in nearby Salingyi over the next two days.

“The army column has been raiding [our village] since 11 a.m. yesterday morning, forcing people to run away,” said a resident who didn’t want to be named for security reasons. “Now they are burning buildings near Htan Taw Gyi village. I can see the smoke.”

Residents of nine villages in Yinmarbin and four in Salingyi fled to other villages or the forest to avoid the troops. They said troops often arrest or kill civilians and torch their homes to punish them for their alleged support of local People’s Defense Forces.

The junta spokesman for Sagaing region, Aye Hlaing, said he did not know about any current army operations in the two townships.

Villagers flee junta arson attacks in Yinmarbin and Salingyi townships on Jan. 24, 2023. Credit: Citizen journalist

The Institute for Strategy and Policy (Myanmar) said Tuesday a total of 43,216 buildings in Sagaing region had been destroyed between Feb. 1, 2021, and Jan. 14, 2023.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 650,000 people have abandoned their homes in Sagaing region since the military seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government nearly two years ago.

Around 15% of people in the region have been forced to live in camps, by far the largest number of internally displaced persons of any of the country’s states and regions, ISP said.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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