The three-day arson attack by the Myanmar army forces 10,000 people to flee

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About 10,000 villagers in two townships have left their homes as junta forces continue scorched earth operations in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, local residents told RFA.

A column of about 100 troops began burning houses in Yinmarbin township on Monday and attacked villages in nearby Salingyi over the next two days.

“The army column is raiding [our village] since 11am yesterday morning, forcing people to run away,” said one resident who declined to be named for security reasons. “Now they are burning buildings near Htan Taw Gyi village. I can see the smoke.”

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Residents of nine villages in Yinmarbin and four in Salingyi fled to other villages or the forest to avoid the troops. They said troops often arrest or kill civilians and torch their homes to punish them for their alleged support for the local People’s Defense Forces.

Junta spokesman for the Sagaing region, Aye Hlaing, said he was not aware of any ongoing army operations in the two townships.

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Villagers flee junta arson attacks in Yinmarbin and Salingyi townships on January 24, 2023. Credit: Citizen Journalist

The Institute of Strategy and Policy (Myanmar) said on Tuesday that between February 1, 2021 and January 14, 2023, a total of 43,216 buildings were destroyed in the Sagaing region.

More than 650,000 people have left their homes in the Sagaing region since the military seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government nearly two years ago, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

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About 15% of people in the region have been forced to live in camps, by far the largest number of internally displaced persons of any state and region of the country, according to ISP.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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