More fires tore through the junta-occupied town of Thantlang on Saturday, destroying 18 homes and a church where ousted Vice President Henry Van Thio worshipped, an aid group and a former regional minister said.
Hundreds of homes have been set ablaze in the Chin State town since an assault by the Myanmar military forced the majority of its 10,000 residents to flee in September.
Much of the damage has been caused by arson committed by junta soldiers, according to resistance fighters and local residents, while some of the fires were started by artillery shell explosions.
The exact cause of Saturday’s fires was unclear.
The Thantlang Placement Affairs Committee – IDPs Help, said that 16 houses burned on Saturday along with the United Pentecostal Church in the town’s Zay ward.
Salai Isaac Khin, a former regional minister, wrote on his Facebook page that the church’s congregation included Vice President Henry Van Thio and his wife, Dr Sui Hluan.
Another two houses burned down in Thantlang’s Phayar Kyaung ward on Saturday, the Thantlang Placement Affairs Committee said.
Henry Van Thio was reportedly detained on February 1 along with other senior members of the civilian government and placed under house arrest, but the junta has not filed any charges against him.
In October the junta offered the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ special envoy to Myanmar a meeting with Henry Van Thio after denying a similar meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, according to The Irrawaddy.
At least five churches and more than 490 houses have now been destroyed in the town, which before the junta’s onslaught had some 2,000 homes.
The military has denied responsibility for the fires.