Hundreds of residents from Kinma, the Magway Region village that was burned down by regime forces on Tuesday, are still hiding in nearby forests two days after their homes, crops and stocks of food were destroyed.
Police torched about 200 of the community’s 230 houses after regime forces clashed with local resistance fighters outside the village. An elderly couple who stayed behind in their home were burned to death.
“Those whose houses were not burned down left at least one person at their houses to keep a watch on the situation,” a Kinma resident who is in hiding told Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.
He added that rice and other crops that the villagers stocked at their houses were also destroyed in the fire, which still has not died out completely.
The charred remains of pigs, goats and other livestock were also seen in pictures taken by villagers.
“The villagers are still very much afraid to go back,” the resident said.
The roughly 800 villagers have no idea how they will rebuild their lives now that their crops, livestock and homes have been destroyed, the resident added.
On June 12, gunmen on motorbikes shot at the house of the junta-allied administrator of Deedotekwin village, more than 12 miles from Kinma.
Authorities traced the licence plate of one of the bikes to Kinma, according to a resident, and police and plainclothes soldiers then went to the village in search of the attackers.
But they were ambushed by armed local resistance fighters and a clash ensued. A resistance fighter said up to 15 people were killed on the regime’s side and one local was injured in the clash. Myanmar Now could not verify the figures.
After the clash, a group of police officers were able to enter the village, which had already been mostly abandoned after people got word of the arrival of the junta’s forces.
They then set fire to houses in the village one by one, a local resident told Myanmar Now.
By Wednesday morning, only between 30 and 50 houses were still intact, according to a villager who returned to see the situation.
The remains of two burned bodies belong to Mya Maung, 85, and Kyi Hmein, 83, were discovered by the villagers.
The MRTV state television channel said on Wednesday night that 40 “terrorists” had set fire to the village, and that media who blamed the regime were trying to discredit the military.
Kinma locals said the fire was set in retaliation for the casualties the regime suffered in the ambush outside the village.
A resistance fighter told Myanmar Now the suggestion that his group set the fires was false. “Our defence forces would never do that. We will only act for the security of the people.”
Villagers said the junta has been trying to crush resistance groups in the region after the recent killings of pro-regime figures there.
A local administrator and a campaign leader for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in the village of Kin Soke were killed in May.
About 30 members of the regime’s forces were reportedly killed in an attack with handmade landmines about 30km outside of the town of Pauk on May 31.
Source – Myanmar Now