Hundreds of villagers flee fighting in sourthern Chin

Hundreds have fled fighting between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw in Chin state’s Paletwa township since last week, a local official told Myanmar Now.

Residents from villages in the township’s southern hills fled as the Tatmadaw strafed the area with aircraft and heavy artillery, the official said.

Over 400 people from Layla, Thakar Chaung and Kinwa villages have sought refuge in the towns of Paletwa and nearby Sami, said Aung Law Har, an administrator in Paletwa.

Over 30 civilians have died in Paletwa township since March 14, including two children who were among four killed in an artillery shell explosion on April 22.

Clashes in the area intensified last week after subsiding in late April.

The Tatmadaw aircraft strafed the Yetagun mountain last Thursday and a ward in the northwestern part of the township, residents said.

Lin Bwe, who fled Nang Chaung Wa village, told Myanmar Now the situation is little better in Paletwa, where he is now staying.

“We left the village because we were scared of the fighting. But they are fighting here too,” he said. “I can still hear the sound of gunfire and artillery.”

The town’s streets were deserted last week because residents were afraid to leave their homes, he added.

The Tatmadaw also used helicopters in a battle at Yuwa and Kaytha villages on Friday morning, Aung Law Har said.

He said some displaced people staying outside of Paletwa are too sacred to come to the town to collect food rations.

Others who have fled their villages have ended up being trapped by renewed fighting in their host villages.

Nine houses in Nang Chaung Wa village burnt down after a Tatmadaw helicopter attacked last month. All the residents fled to Paletwa.

About 150 people in the township’s east ran out of food last week after being trapped by fighting in Peinletwa village, said township association secretary Peter Lawe Lu.

The state municipal affairs minister Soe Htet was making arrangements last week to deliver rations to the stranded villagers, he added.

Paletwa has a population of over 110,000, about 60,000 of whom have been affected by recent clashes, according to local government figures.

Over 7,500 people have taken refuge in 20 camps in the area, a number that has doubled since February, according to the UN’s humanitarian affairs office.

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