Gangaw Township villagers return to find homes torched by junta troops

Residents of San Myo, a village in Magway Region’s Gangaw Township that was occupied by regime forces earlier in the week, said a large section of the village had been destroyed by fire.

The villagers, who returned to San Myo on Thursday following the departure of troops who had been stationed there for three days, said at least 32 buildings had been burnt to the ground, while many others had been ransacked.

“Both wooden and brick houses, as well as four shops, were destroyed. The wooden houses were reduced to ashes and the brick houses had collapsed,” said one San Myo resident who wanted to remain anonymous.

“The military essentially entered every single house and destroyed all the wardrobes and chests. They even took the clothes,” the villager added.

According to a spokesperson for the Yaw Defence Force (YDF), the main anti-regime resistance group active in the area, the military unit that raided San Myo also torched a YDF base located east of the village.

There were also unconfirmed reports that an unspecified number of villagers had been arrested, including five who were later released.

Junta forces stationed in the village were also accused of slaughtering and eating three cows and taking six more.

The troops that seized control of San Myo on Monday were part of a force that carried out an air raid on the village of Hnan Khar on December 17.

Three helicopters were used in that attack, which resistance forces estimated killed as many as 20 people. Last Sunday, nine bodies were recovered.

San Myo is a village of around 1,000 inhabitants located in Magway’s northern Yaw region, which is at a strategic crossroads between Sagaing Region to the east and Chin State to the west.

According to a statement released by the YDF on Thursday, the group attacked a convoy of 24 military vehicles heading towards Gangaw Township the previous afternoon.

As many as 30 regime troops may have been killed in the attack, the statement said, adding that it was carried out near the Pone Taung Pone Nyar hills using handmade explosives and RPGs.

The convoy was seen near the village of Yae Myat Ni earlier in the day shooting randomly to scare off resistance fighters in the area. It continued its journey the following morning, according to the YDF spokesperson.

“There hasn’t been a clash today,” he said on Thursday.

Around 13,000 civilians have been displaced by airstrikes and army raids in Gangaw Township, according to the local People’s Administration Team, which was formed to govern the area after the majority of state employees working under the junta there resigned or defected.

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