Myanmar military torches 100 homes in Sagaing Region village

The Myanmar army fired artillery shells at and then raided Ke Bar village in Sagaing Region’s Ayadaw Township on Monday afternoon, setting fire to more than 100 houses, according to multiple sources. 

A Ke Bar villager who witnessed the raid and spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity said that the attack on the 500-household community 14 miles southeast of Ayadaw town began at around 9am. 

“Around 100 houses were lost in the fire,” the villager said on Tuesday. “The fire didn’t spread from one house to another. [The soldiers] purposely torched each and every house. The villagers tried to put out the fires once they left. Some houses are still burning and the villagers are still trying to put the fires out.” 

The junta troops also reportedly destroyed a school and abducted two villagers in their 40s, a brother and a sister.

Moe Gyo, who comes from Ke Bar and leads a locally organised chapter of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF), said that the Myanmar army soldiers also set fire to at least 10 motorbikes parked at the school after suspecting that PDF members were present in the area. 

“They thought that there were PDF members in our village. The villagers began to flee when [the military] started firing shells. They fired shells and RPG missiles at the village from 1,000 feet away before they entered the village,” Moe Gyo told Myanmar Now. “They took two hostages and forced them to show [the soldiers] our houses,” he added, referring to the homes of individuals such as himself, who are involved in the armed resistance.

Moe Aung, the leader of another local resistance group calling itself Zayar 7, said that those soldiers who shot artillery at and set fire to Ke Bar were among the 150 troops and members of the pro-military Pyu Saw Htee group stationed in Thalebar village, two miles to the north. 

He confirmed that the weapons fired included 60-mm shells and RPGs. 

“Our resistance forces had to retreat as [the military] had more firepower. They started torching the houses once they got into the village at around noon,” Moe Aung explained. 

The Zayar 7 leader claimed that around nine junta soldiers had been killed in a clash with the local PDF following a raid on Ke Bar on December 9. He speculated that the torching of houses on Monday was likely carried out in retaliation for that incident, or for the murder of a suspected military informant in the village by the resistance on December 6. 

Myanmar Now was unable to verify his claims connecting the alleged destruction of homes by the military to previous clashes.

The troops reportedly returned to Thalebar at around 2pm after the attack on Ke Bar. Resistance forces have not launched a counterattack since then as they have been informed that the military is using village hostages as human shields, a member of another local PDF group told Myanmar Now. 

He added that the military remains in possession of heavy weapons and the PDF, mostly armed with muskets, already detonated their supply of explosives during the military’s raid on the village. 

The Myanmar army has been engaged in a brutal campaign against local populations throughout Sagaing Region, setting fire to all or part of villages in an effort to crush support for the anti-coup resistance movement. 

Additional reporting by Khin Yi Yi Zaw and Ko Cho

Correction: It was originally reported that the two villagers taken hostage by the military were both men. The article has been updated to reflect that one man and one woman—a brother and a sister—were abducted and held hostage.

Related Articles

Back to top button