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March 3, 2024

Junta raids Sagaing region villages forcing 2,000 locals to flee

More than 2,000 villagers in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region fled ahead of two days of junta raids, the Kyunhla-Kanbalu Activists Group told RFA on Tuesday

A spokesman, who didn’t want to be named, said a column of troops entered five villages in Kanbalu township over the weekend.

“Before the troops entered Pon Nar Gyi village, they fired heavy artillery and a man in the village was hit by shell fragments,” he said. “The residents of nearby villages also had to flee because the troops were getting close.”

After raiding Pon Nar Gyi on Saturday troops moved on to nearby Chat Lel. The following day they moved on to three other villages, including Pi Tauk Pin which has more than 100 homes, burning 12 of the houses there, the activists’ group said.

Locals told RFA the military column comprised about 120 troops from junta Infantry Battalion 368 and the junta aligned Pyu Saw Htee militia.

Calls to Sagaing region junta spokesman Aye Hlaing went unanswered Tuesday. In the past he told RFA he is not able to comment on security issues.

Last month troops burned down 274 houses in Kanbalu and Kyunhla townships, according to the Kyunhla-Kanbalu Activists Group. It said seven people were burned to death.

The military has stepped up a scorched earth campaign in Sagaing region this year, torching 4,271 houses in January and killing 17 civilians, Myanmar’s ousted National Unity Government said last week.

In the last five months of 2022, the number of people in Sagaing region fleeing fighting and arson attacks rose 17% to 616,500 the Market Analysis Unit said on Jan. 29. That accounts for half of the newly displaced persons nationwide between August and December, according to the unit of the Myanmar Information Management Unit, which supplies data to the humanitarian and development community.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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