Myanmar army column advances through Sagaing Region township, torching seven villages in one day

Several villagers believed to have been captured are missing, and one is found beheaded

A 30-year-old man was found decapitated on Monday amid a junta rampage through Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township that left some 100 homes in seven villages burned in one day. 

The 100-soldier column carrying out the raids has been actively torching communities along the Chindwin River since Monday. 

Nay Tun, the deceased, lived in the forest near the village of Pa Tein Pyin, and was captured after the arrival of the advancing military unit. Another villager told Myanmar Now that his body, found later that day, showed signs of torture. 

“He had all his toes cut off before he was finally decapitated,” the local said. 

In total, around 100 homes had been destroyed within a seven mile radius at the time of reporting. Among these were two houses in Pa Tein Pyin, as well as the communal hall. 

The other villages targeted on Monday included Inbat—where almost half of the burned homes were located—and Kyat Shar, Kyaung Kone, Kyun Paw, Hnaw Pin, Kyauk Hmaw. 

“It’s very hard to build a house, and so many good houses were destroyed in the arson attacks,” an Inbat resident who lost his home said. “It wasn’t just houses… even the cowsheds and barns were destroyed.”

“The fire actually got worse, because the locals didn’t dare to come back into the village to put out the flames, thinking the junta forces were still there,” he continued. “Even the crops were destroyed.” 

He spoke to Myanmar Now from the forest, where he and others had sought refuge. 

“We don’t even have pots and pans to cook with, let alone shelter,” he said. 

According to a statement released by the anti-junta Northern Yinmabin Strike Force on Tuesday, the military column in question spent Monday night in the village of Sone Chaung, where they captured five locals. They later released just one of the individuals; the whereabouts of the remaining four were not known at the time of reporting. 

The junta unit proceeded through the villages of Aung Moe and Si Hlaung, and were occupying Nat Ku Taung as of Wednesday morning, according to local sources. 

A second army column was also seen stationed near Nat Ku Taung in the village of Ye Kyi Pin, and a third—made up of both soldiers and members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia—were seen attacking more Yinmabin Township villages along the Chindwin River on Wednesday. 

Due to the raids throughout the week by these columns, some 10,000 people from 11 villages were forced to flee their homes. 

“They are staying at relatives’ homes, monasteries, schools, and in other places where we think they may be safe,” a Yinmabin local helping the displaced persons said. “The junta column hasn’t withdrawn and we don’t know where it is heading next.” 

A spokesperson for a local resistance force speculated that the military was intensifying its attacks on areas considered to be resistance strongholds in Sagaing in order to clear the way to hold junta-controlled elections later this year. 

Myanmar Now News