Remaining buildings in deserted Chin State town torched by Myanmar army

Myanmar army troops torched the remaining houses in the deserted town of Thantlang, Chin State in the last days of February, the anti-junta Thantlang Placement Affairs Committee said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Salai Lian, spokesperson for the committee, told Myanmar Now that the military has targeted the town in some 26 arson attacks over the last year and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and administrative buildings and 19 houses of worship. 

“They’re torching the town on purpose. I think they’re getting rid of the houses so that they can get clearer shots at their targets,” he said.

The committee’s statement on March 1 said that a total of 101 houses from five urban wards in Thantlang were lost in the fire over the past week. 

Junta forces targeted homes that had been spared in previous attacks, Salai Hlyan added.  

Thantlang’s 8,000 to 10,000 residents have been displaced since battles in the town escalated nearly six months ago, with many of those who fled hiding in surrounding forests. 

“[The military] started torching the houses in the township in September last year. It’s as if they have complete disregard for the property of the civilians. They lack humanity as well,” Salai Hlyan said. 

He added that almost half of the 2,300 homes across the township are now gone.

Soldiers torched houses in Thantlang in February after the commander of Infantry Battalion (IB) 269, Lt-Col Myo Zaw Tun, lost his leg to a landmine in the town.

The military council has maintained that the fires in Thantlang were set by local anti-junta defence forces. 

According to the Chinland Defence Force, soldiers from the Hakha-based IBs 269 and 222, as well as those from Light Infantry Division 11 have been occupying the town. The group has categorised the junta’s repeated attacks on Thantlang as acts of revenge for ambushes by resistance forces on their military columns during patrols in the area.

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