Armed USDP supporters destroy homes of pro-NLD villagers in Kanbalu

Armed members of the military-allied Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) destroyed four homes in a village in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township on Wednesday, according to local sources. 

About 50 USDP members and supporters carrying guns, sticks and knives gathered at the party’s office in Yi Dway village at 6am before proceeding to the homes of four known supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the sources said.

They then confronted the NLD supporters, identified as Kyaw San, Phoe Tote, Soe Lwin and Win Myo Oo, and set fire to their homes, the sources told Myanmar Now.

Photos sent by residents of the village show a number of houses completely destroyed by fire, leaving only their pillars still standing.

The conflict was apparently sparked by an incident the previous evening, when betel farms owned by USDP members and supporters were destroyed by unknown attackers.

“They said they destroyed the houses because of what happened to their betel farms. But we don’t know who destroyed their farms. They just accused us, NLD supporters, and destroyed these homes as revenge,” said a local woman.

The woman, who is related to one of the victims of Wednesday’s attack, said that the USDP mob also threatened to shoot the NLD supporters.

“They pointed their guns at my cousin, who was holding her baby, and said they’d kill the reds [NLD supporters], both adults and children. They asked her how ‘red’ she was. But she was not shot because their wives stopped them,” the woman said.

Police did not come to the village until the following morning, when they arrested two men on unknown charges, but not the perpetrators of the attack.

“The police came, but they weren’t on our side. They didn’t arrest any of the armed USDP people that destroyed the homes,” the woman said.

Another woman living in the village noted that the attackers appeared to be using the same traditional hunting rifles that some local civilians have used against regime forces.

“They were long. Some people said they were Tumi guns,” she said, referring to handmade rifles commonly used for hunting in remote areas of Sagaing Region.

She added, however, that such rifles were not widely available in the village.

“The village didn’t have any guns before, even though the USDP people accused us of having weapons. I don’t know how they got a hold of them,” she said.

Since the incident, NLD supporters and other opponents of the regime have fled their homes out of concern for their safety, according to several villagers who spoke to Myanmar Now. 

Yi Dway has around 300 households and is located about 11km from the town of Kanbalu. The village has been raided by the military five times since the coup, locals said. 

During raids in April and May, five NLD members and activists were arrested, according to Yi Dway residents. 

USDP spokespeople and local police could not be reached for comment regarding Wednesday’s incident.

Like other parts of the country, Kanbalu Township saw large protests in the wake of the February 1 coup. When the military moved to crush local resistance to its rule, some civilians armed themselves to defend the protesters. 

Since then, a full-blown conflict has developed, claiming lives on both sides.

On June 2, a local defence team attacked police and military trucks with handmade hunting rifles and explosives. A deputy police chief was killed in that attack.


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