Soldiers snatch fleeing locals in northern Myanmar before setting fire to homes

A column of roughly 100 junta soldiers kidnapped 30 men from a village in Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township this week before moving onto a second village and burning homes there, a local resistance group has said. 

Hundreds of people fled as the soldiers raided Ywar Htaung, a village of 150 households, at about 3pm on Monday. The villagers made their way to the nearby Mambara Monastery, which sits at the edge of the town of Yinmabin. 

The soldiers snatched the men from among those who were running to the monastery for shelter, said Khant, the leader of a local resistance group called the North Yamar Defence Force.    

“They took the villagers as they were fleeing in panic to the monastery during the raid,” he told Myanmar Now. “They also fired both heavy and light weapons. There weren’t even any defence forces around, let alone a battle.”

He had heard that the men were taken to the Yinmabin Township Police Station but had been unable to contact them, he added. 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old,” he said. “They consider every male person their enemy. They check the knees and elbows of the men to see if they are bruised and if they are, they accuse them of taking military training.”

Two women from Ywar Htaing have also gone missing but it is unclear whether or not they were taken by the soldiers, according to an information officer from the Yinmabin Information Team, a group that provides updates about the resistance movement in the township. 

The day after taking the men, the junta column travelled to the village of Htan Taw Gyi, on the northeastern side of Yinmabin, and set fire to houses there, he added. 

“We could see smoke coming out of the village while we were watching them from nearby,” he said. “They started torching it at around 1pm. We could hear them firing heavy artillery shells too.” 

The junta’s forces have burned hundreds of homes across Sagaing Region, a key resistance stronghold, as part of a scorched-earth campaign aimed at stamping out armed guerrilla groups. 

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