Myanmar junta troops have torched hundreds of buildings during a three-day raid in the country’s north, local media and residents said, as the military struggles to crush resistance to its rule.
The Sagaing region has seen fierce fighting and bloody reprisals since the coup last year, with local “People’s Defence Force” (PDF) members clashing regularly with junta troops.
Analysts say the informal militia has surprised junta forces with its effectiveness, and the military has on numerous occasions called in air strikes to support its troops on the ground.
Troops torched hundreds of buildings in the villages of Kinn, Upper Kinn and Ke Taung over three days last week, locals and media reports said.
On May 26, villagers in Kinn fled as soldiers approached and began shooting into the air, said one resident who requested anonymity.
“The next morning we saw smoke rising from our village before they left.
“Over 200 houses were burned down... my house was totally burned down, only the concrete foundation is left.”
Drone footage purporting to show the aftermath obtained by AFP showed columns of smoke rising into the sky from the villages, set along a roughly eight-kilometre stretch of the Chindwin river.
The junta has previously rebuffed claims its troops have torched houses, accusing “terrorist” PDF fighters of starting the fires.
In a speech on Tuesday, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said “efforts were made to minimise the casualties as much as possible in performing the counterattacks to terror acts.”
“Now, the country is in tranquillity,” he said, according to state newspaper the Global New Light of Myanmar .