Around 800 Falam villagers flee as junta troops go on rampage

Soldiers who went on a rampage in northern Chin State’s Falam Township last week have forced around 800 civilians from four villages to flee their homes, according to local sources.

The military raided the four villages after fighting broke out between junta troops and the Chin National Defence Force (CNDF) on July 20.

The raids targeted the villages of Taal, Tlangzawl, Thlanrawn and Zomual, which are all located about 12 miles from the town of Falam.

Half of the homes in Taal, a village of 40 households, were destroyed, according to one resident.

“The military just started shooting at everything in sight. We had to flee in a panic. We can’t go home even now,” the man, who asked not to be named, told Myanmar Now on Sunday. 

“They even cut open sacks of rice and stepped on the rice with their boots. They took all of our oil, too. They even took all the decent blankets that we had,” he said.

Besides taking around 30 blankets, the soldiers confiscated three mobile phones from two young men who returned to the village to charge them and get supplies, he added.

The displaced villagers were said to be in desperate need of food, shelter and blankets.

Myanmar Now attempted to contact military authorities for comment on the raids, but did not receive a response. The regime has not released a statement on the clashes in Falam.

The day before the fighting started, the CNDF issued a warning to local residents about travelling in the area.

A temporary ceasefire went into effect in Mindat Township, in the southern part of Chin State, in late June, but fresh clashes broke out last week after talks between the military and local resistance fighters collapsed.

Armed resistance groups consisting of local villagers with hunting rifles and other rudimentary weapons have formed in several rural areas of Chin State, as well as parts of Sagaing Region and Kayah State.

Meanwhile, established ethnic armed groups, such as the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front, have also engaged in fighting in some of the same areas.

Sources with ethnic armed groups that have clashed with the military since the coup in February, including the Kachin Independence Army and the Karen National Liberation Army, say they expect to see an intensification of fighting as reinforcements pour into Kachin, Kayah, Kayin and Chin states.

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