On September 13, security forces of the ruling military junta stormed the Hnan Khar village in the Gangaw Township and set 14 houses on fire. The action occurred amid an escalation of the conflict between the forces of the ruling military junta and those troops loyal to the ousted government.
According to the local media, the soldiers arrived in several vehicles on Monday morning at Hnan Khar, firing indiscriminately over the defense fighters, following which they set at least 14 houses on fire.
This is not the first of such attacks. A resident of Magway told Myanmar Now that the arson attack in his village was intentional: “The junta forces were trying to scare us. They set fire to houses, fired their guns and left immediately,” he said.
Clashes between the Peoples Defence Forces — comprising former government officials and locals — and the junta have taken place repeatedly following the declaration of “defensive war” this September against the military regime that toppled the Aung Sann Suu Kyi-led government in a military coup on February 1.
In one such armed clash on September 9 between the two junta forces and defense volunteers in Myin Thar, at least 18 people, including five villagers, were killed. Following this, the military attempted a raid on September 12 wherein the junta forces allegedly damaged 27 more houses in Htei Hlaw.
The escalation of violence has forced many residents of places like the Hnan Khar village that comprises around 1000 houses, to flee. Residents fear a spike in military raids and fighting in the region. Those fleeing the villages without food and necessities stress that they will continue to resist the military regime.
Ever since the anti-military opposition parties announced a “defensive war” on September 7, more than 20 people have lost their lives in the recent spike of violence in Myanmar.
The Civil Disobedience Movement in a statement that “the young people of Myanmar have no choice but to fight back with what they have.”
So far, the Myanmar military has arrested more than 6,300 people after they toppled the civilian government eight months ago; as per the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 1,058 people have been killed in the mass agitation that went on for several months after February 1.