The military raided and torched at least seven villages along the Chindwin River in Sagaing Region’s Kani Township this week, destroying some 200 homes, according to local sources.
The rampage, which began on Wednesday, reportedly lasted two days. Two villages on the river’s eastern shore were initially targeted— Yae Butalin and Chaung Wa Gyi—along with three more on the western banks: Sin San, Thayet Taw and Kin Taung.
Homes near Ngar Phyet and Mu Htaw villages, also on the east side of the Chindwin, were burned on Thursday.
“Two military columns were launching assaults at the same time,” a member of the Kani Township anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now.
The troops raiding the villages east of the Chindwin River were the same soldiers who fled an attack by the PDF in September last year on the Winmanar police station in Kani Township, the resistance force member claimed.
Among those carrying out the assaults along the river’s western shore were soldiers stationed in Kyauktaw Township’s Ah Lel Kyun village—one of Sagaing’s remaining junta strongholds—as well as members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia, he added.
Citing eyewitness accounts, another local close to the Kani PDF told Myanmar Now that a 30-year-old man from Kin Taung was found dead with a knife wound to his neck following the raid on his village.
The locals who spoke to Myanmar Now said that residents of the seven targeted villages had fled their homes, as well as villagers from 10 other communities in the area who feared they too could be attacked.
Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify further details about the arson attacks in Kani, which is among the areas to which the junta has cut off internet access.
The source close to the PDF speculated that the raids were timed to clear and “secure” the area ahead of a major jade shipment expected to soon travel down the Chindwin River.
Guerrilla fighters have been frequently attacking the junta’s marine vessels along the Sagaing Region waterway.
Resistance forces in Sagaing claim to have established control over much of the region, with the exception of three urban wards in Kani Township and Ah Lel Kyun in Kyauktaw.
The military council has repeatedly denied responsibility for arson attacks nationwide, which, according to Data for Myanmar, had destroyed some 10,000 homes as of May 1.