About 10,000 villagers in two townships have fled their homes as junta troops continued operations in the scorched earth in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, locals told RFA.
A column of about 100 troops began burning houses in the town of Yinmarbin on Monday and attacked villages in nearby Salingyi over the next two days.
“The army column has been about to attack [our village] since 11 o’clock yesterday morning, forcing people to run away,” said a resident who did not want to be named for security reasons. “Now they are burning buildings near the village of Htan Taw Gyi. 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 burn them their homes to punish them for their alleged support of local People’s Defense Forces.
The junta’s spokesman for the Sagaing region, Aye Hlaing, said he was not aware of any current army operations in the two townships.
The Department of Strategy and Policy (Myanmar) said on Tuesday that a total of 43,216 buildings in the Sagaing region had been destroyed between February 1, 2021 and January 14, 2023.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 650,000 people have fled their homes in the Sagaing region since the military seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government nearly two years ago.
About 15% of people in the region have been forced to live in camps, by far the largest number of internally displaced people in any of the country’s states and regions, the ISP said.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.