Junta forces burnt 39 houses in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan District on Tuesday morning after looting the village for hours, locals said.
The 100-household Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun, located along the Ayeyarwady River in western Ngazun Township, came under attack at 4am by a convoy of around 70 Myanmar army soldiers.
A resident told Myanmar Now that it was assumed by the troops that members of the anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF) from neighbouring Myaung Township—a resistance stronghold across the Ayeyarwady in Sagaing—were sheltering there.
“They raided the village because they thought PDF troops were hiding there, as it is opposite Myaung,” he said. “There wasn’t anything of significance to them in the village, and there wasn’t a PDF base there, either.”
The troops reportedly did not begin burning Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun until three hours after they had arrived and cleared it of valuables.
“They entered the village, firing their weapons, forcing the villagers to flee to the shore of the river,” the local man recalled. “After the village had been emptied, they started looting and carrying away the stolen items on ox-drawn carts. They only started torching the houses after that.”
At around 10:30am, the junta soldiers left Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun, returning to the occupied village of Thar Kyin, also in Ngazun, seven miles away.
Some of the Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun’s residents returned to extinguish the fire after the troops had withdrawn, but at the time of reporting, they had not resettled in the community. Tuesday’s attack was the second time that the village had come under siege in recent months; junta forces also torched several homes there on September 17 last year, displacing hundreds of civilians.
Ngazun Township is home to around 1,000 households in total. The estimated 100 Myanmar army soldiers stationed in two of its villages, Thar Kyin and Ngarn Mar Gyi have been known to retaliate against other area communities after there are clashes with anti-junta forces in Myaung.
On Sunday, two days before the attack on Shwe Pauk Pin Kyun, junta forces targeted Ma Yoe Kone, one mile away. They reportedly captured three civilians, including one teacher, who were still in junta custody at the time of reporting.
Villagers are frequently detained by Myanmar army troops and forced to act as guides or porters, or tortured for information regarding the armed resistance movement. Their families have also at times been asked for ransom to ensure their release.
The military council does not release information on arson attacks, theft, arbitrary arrests or extrajudicial killings by its forces and rarely provides comment to journalists covering such crimes.