The entire population of the mountaintop town of Thantlang in Chin State has fled after being bombarded by Myanmar junta forces during an intense clash with civilian resistance forces on the weekend.
Virtually the entire population of around 8,000 residents have already left the town, with just a few dozen people including pastors and senior citizens remaining, according to Thantlang Placement Affair Committee-IDPs Help (TPAC-IDPs), which is assisting the fleeing residents.
On Saturday, more than 30 junta troops were killed during a shootout with a combined force of the Chinland Defense Force-Thantlang (CDF-T) and Chin National Army (CNA), according to the CDF-T.
After sustaining a large number of casualties, junta forces randomly opened fire on the residential area of the town using heavy weapons and explosives. As a result of the attack, 19 houses burned down.
Christian pastor Cung Biak Hum was also shot dead and his wedding ring looted by Myanmar junta soldiers, who cut off the pastor’s finger.
The pastor was shot dead by junta soldiers when he went outside to help put out the fires caused by the military’s artillery barrage. Junta forces also stole a watch and mobile phone belonging to the pastor.
The next day, the junta’s soldiers roamed the town, arbitrarily opening fire on houses without reason.
The junta’s bombardment and random shootings prompted the whole population to flee the town, an official of TPAC-IDPs told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
He added that emergency assistance was needed for the fleeing residents of Thantlang.
After the parallel National Unity Government’s declaration of a People’s Defensive War against the junta on Sept. 7, urban warfare between the CDF-T and junta forces erupted in Thantlang on Sept. 9.
After that clash, four civilians were injured when junta forces randomly opened fire with heavy explosives and a house was also burned down by the soldiers.
On Sept. 10, a combined force of CDF-T and CAN seized and burned down a military outpost in Lungler Village near the Indian border west of Thantlang.