More homes torched by military convoy traversing northern Chin State

In the latest of many recent junta assaults on communities in northern Chin State, a military convoy heading from Hakha to Falam set fire to 13 houses in the villages of Taal and Thlanrawn on Monday morning, locals said. 

Two armoured vehicles and more than 50 trucks arrived in Taal on Sunday evening and occupied the village overnight before torching several homes upon leaving the following morning, according to a spokesperson from the Chin National Defence Force (CNDF). 

It was the fourth attack since July on Taal, located 12 miles outside of Falam and home to 36 households and a population of 160. The attacks have cost the village more than 30m kyat (more than US$16,000) in damage, according to the Institute of Chin Affairs. 

“The villagers managed to salvage two houses after they left, but eight houses burnt to ashes,” the CNDF spokesperson told Myanmar Now, adding that three more homes were set alight when the troops later reached Thlanrawn village. 

The junta convoy was sent to northern Chin State from Kalay in Sagaing Region weeks ago, arriving in Falam on October 12, then travelling onward and arriving in Hakha—40 miles away—on October 20.

Over this period of eight days, the soldiers set fire to and destroyed property in three villages along the road: all 10 houses in Rialti, 12 in Thlanrawn and three in Taal, along with two churches.  

Two Chin anti-junta armed forces ambushed the Myanmar army troops on October 14, leading to a series of clashes. 

The remains of a torched and ransacked house in Taal village is seen on the afternoon of October 25 (Supplied)

The military convoy stayed in Hakha for around two days before heading back to Falam on Saturday, making the return trip in just two days and firing artillery shells at villages from which the residents had already fled, the CNDF spokesperson said. 

“I think they turned back to Falam as they couldn’t continue to Thantlang. Now that they have sent reinforcements to Hakha, we don’t know where they are going to send their troops next,” he told Myanmar Now.

Locals told Myanmar Now that in Monday’s raid on Taal, soldiers also looted empty houses, stealing furniture and food.

“They not only torched the houses but also took everything in them. They even took the chairs and cupboards on their cars. They didn’t even leave behind the blankets and pillows,” a displaced Taal villager said. 

“They went through it all and took everything, even items we had hidden,” he said, adding that the troops stole their stores of rice and cooking oil, creating further food insecurity and putting the villagers in “desperate need of help.”   

“Now that they have burned down our village, we don’t have anywhere to go back to anymore.”

According to data compiled by the CNDF, around 4,000 people from at least seven villages along the Falam-Hakha road have been displaced by junta raids and attacks on the area. 

An October 15 report by the Chin Human Rights Organisation stated that some 200 buildings in Sagaing and Magway regions and Chin State were destroyed by the junta in August and September alone. Most were in Chin State, the group noted, and included seven churches, one monastery and more than 90 homes. 

In September, the military council said that it was “investigating” allegations that their troops had destroyed religious buildings in the state. 

The Myanmar army has been sending reinforcement columns to both northern and southern Chin State since early October in an effort to crush the state’s significant armed resistance movement.

Junta spokesperson Gen Zaw Min Tun did not answer Myanmar Now’s calls for comment on the reports of the military’s alleged actions in Chin State. 

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