Myanmar city near the Indian border suffers an exodus as thousands flee the fighting

Myanmar city near the Indian border suffers an exodus as thousands flee the fighting

People displaced by clashes in northwestern Myanmar between junta forces and anti-junta fighters walk in Chin State, Myanmar, on May 31, 2021. REUTERS / Stringer

Sep 22 (Reuters) – Most of the population of a Myanmar city near the Indian border has fled after artillery set buildings ablaze amid fighting between militias opposed to the military government and the army, according to residents and reports of the media.

About 10,000 people normally live in Thantlang in Chin state, but most had left to seek refuge in the surrounding areas, including some in India, a community leader said.

Myanmar has been in crisis since a government led by veteran pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi was toppled on February 1, sparking anger, strikes, protests and the rise of anti-junta militias across the country.

During the fighting between militia forces and the army last weekend, some 20 houses were set on fire, with photos on social media showing buildings engulfed in flames.

Soldiers shot dead a Christian pastor who tried to put out a fire, the Myanmar Now news portal reported, although state media disputed the report.

Myanmar’s Global New Light said the pastor’s death was under investigation and that some 100 “terrorists” had ambushed the soldiers and the two sides exchanged gunfire.

The militants had invaded an army base in early September and the military responded with airstrikes, said Salai Thang, a community leader, who said four civilians had been killed and 15 wounded in recent weeks.

The Chin Defense Force, a militia opposed to the army, said in a statement that 30 soldiers had been killed.

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Reuters could not independently confirm any of the claims and a military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

A relative of the dead pastor told Reuters that most of the people had fled the city, although a handful of homes remained, including about 20 children in an orphanage run by the pastor.

“The murder of a Baptist minister and the bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State, are the latest examples of the living hell that junta forces carry out daily against the people of Myanmar,” said Thomas Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar. in a post on Twitter this week.

There has been an increase in bloodshed in areas like Chin State after the Government of National Unity, a shadowy clandestine administration created by opponents of the army, declared an uprising on September 7 and called in the new militia. , known as the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), to target the junta and its assets. read more

Attempts by the PDFs to engage a well-equipped army have often resulted in civilians being caught in the crossfire and forced to flee.

Community leader Salai Thang said he was deeply concerned about displaced people taking refuge in nearby villages and some in the Indian state of Mizoram.

“Those refugees are now desperately fighting for food and shelter,” he said by phone.

Reuters Staff Report Ed Davies Editing Robert Birsel Editing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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