Myanmar Escalation: Locals Say Military Forces Burned Down Village
Story Code : 938542
Several villagers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday that security forces set fire to scores of rural homes after clashing with local opponents of the junta in Kin Ma, a village in Magway Region a day earlier
Two people are known to have burned to death.
The victims were elderly residents who had been unable to flee their home during the fire, and their bodies were found after some people returned to the village, a 32-year-old volunteer assisting displaced people from the village said.
Local accounts of the incident given by telephone and photographs seen by Reuters indicate that about 30 houses remained in Kin Ma, with some 200 others were reduced to piles of ash and bricks.
Most of the residents remained in hiding in nearby forests after fleeing the village, when soldiers firing guns entered it shortly before noon on Tuesday.
Photos and videos circulating on social media also showed much of the village flattened by fire. Burnt planks of wood, sheet metal, bricks and cooking pots were scattered around, with only a few trees left standing. There were also images of the charred bodies of farm animals.
As villagers blamed junta forces for the near-destruction of Kin Ma, the military pointed the finger at "terrorists."
The state-run broadcaster MRTV announced that 40 “terrorists” torched a house in Kin Ma, starting a fire that spread to 100 of the village’s 225 homes, as military forces were trying to arrest them.
It added that media that reported otherwise were “deliberately plotting to discredit the military.”
This is the latest example of how violence has become endemic in much of Myanmar as the military junta widens its efforts to suppress opposition to the February 1 coup.
“Reports that the junta has burned down an entire village in Magway, killing elderly residents, demonstrate once again that the military continues to commit terrible crimes and has no regard for the people of Myanmar,” Britain’s embassy in Myanmar said on Twitter, quoting its ambassador Dan Chugg.
Turmoil has gripped Myanmar since de facto Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) were ousted in early February, with near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.
The junta seized power over alleged fraud in general elections won by Suu Kyi's party in November.
The allegations of fraud have been dismissed by the former electoral commission, dozens of whose officials are now locked up.