More than 500 houses torched in two Pale villages

Junta troops burned down an entire village in Sagaing Region’s Pale Township on Monday and destroyed half of another, according to local sources.

A resident of Mwe Tone, one of the villages that came under attack, said that a raid by around 150 soldiers began shortly after two military helicopters landed nearby at around 10am.

Residents of the village of roughly 250 households were taken completely by surprise, forcing them to flee without food or other necessities, the 48-year-old man told Myanmar Now. 

“We had to start running right way. They just rushed into the village and opened fire. We didn’t even dare to look back, we just ran,” he said.

The soldiers immediately went through all of the abandoned homes, taking whatever they could find, before setting the entire village on fire later that day, he added.

“We’re just ordinary farmers. We weren’t fighting them. They just destroyed everything for no reason,” said the man.

According to the man, he lost about 10m kyat ($5,600) worth of property in the attack, including his two-storey house, two motorcycles, two bicycles, farm machinery, and more than 6,000 litres of sunflower seeds.

Another resident said that the junta troops also destroyed everything that she owned.  

“I will never forgive them for this. I want them to feel what we had to feel. They have been putting everyone through this hell. It’s like they just want to shoot and kill everyone they see,” said the 60-year-old woman.

According to a member of the Daung Net (“Black Peacock”) Guerrilla Force, an anti-regime group active in the area, the same troops later attacked Pan, a village about 3km from Mwe Tone, setting fire to at least half of its more than 500 homes.

“I heard they were demanding a ransom from the villagers. They said they wouldn’t burn down their homes if they paid 30m kyat [$17,000], which they later increased to 50m kyat [$28,000],” said “Comrade Pe”, the Daung Net member.

Myanmar Now was unable to contact residents of Pan to confirm this information, which Pe said was based on reports from resistance forces in the village.

According to Pe, junta forces stationed in Ta Nei, a village located between Pale and Myaing in Magway Region, have threatened to burn down the village if they come under attack from anti-regime armed groups.

The troops that have been terrorising residents of the area have also been accused of demanding bribes from the owners of hand-dug oil wells in Magway Region. Hundreds of wells have been set on fire, and the charred remains of at least six people have been discovered in the area in recent weeks.

Sagaing and Magway regions have both been major centres of the armed resistance movement that has emerged in the wake of last year’s military coup. 

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