Tuesday’s fire in Kin Ma, a village of about 800 people, left about 200 houses reduced to ash and bricks.
The army torched a village in central Myanmar after a clash with opponents, leaving at least two elderly people burned to death, according to several people who lived in the village.
News of the violence allegedly committed by the military came as protests against the February 1 coup continued, with dozens of protesters on motorcycles staging a dawn strike in Kachin state and hundreds of people marching in Hpakant township in Sagaing region, as well as in Dawei in Tanintharyi region on Thursday.
State television MRTV said Tuesday’s fire in Kin Ma, a village of about 800 residents in the Magway region, was caused by “terrorists” and media that reported otherwise “were plotting. deliberately to discredit the army “.
The Reuters news agency was unable to independently verify the cause of the fire. A military spokesperson did not respond to calls for comment.
All that was left of Kin Ma on Wednesday were around 30 houses, including some 200 houses reduced to piles of ash and bricks, according to several villagers who recounted the incident by phone and photographs seen by Reuters.
The blaze was large enough to be recorded by NASA’s satellite fire-tracking system at 9:52 p.m. (3:22 p.m. GMT) Tuesday.
Villagers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said security forces set fire to after clashing opponents of the coup and at least two people were killed.
A 32-year-old volunteer helping displaced people in the village said the two dead were elderly residents who were unable to escape from their homes during the blaze. He said some people returned to the village on Wednesday and found the bodies.
Most of the villagers remained in hiding in nearby forests, villagers told Reuters.
MRTV said 40 “terrorists” torched a house in Kin Ma, igniting a fire that spread to 100 of the 225 houses in the village.
Myanmar gripped by violence and protests ever since army chief Min Aung Hlaing arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power for the army. The generals had ruled the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist for most of its post-independence years before ceding some powers to a civilian government during a decade of attempted political reform .
A fire ravages a village in Myanmar, killing four elderly people. Residents of Kin Ma village in central Myanmar’s Magway region told RFA that military forces set fire to it. pic.twitter.com/99sxfsBzoR
– Radio Free Asia (@RadioFreeAsia) June 16, 2021
Photographs and videos taken in the aftermath of the Kin Ma fire showed a fine haze of smoke above the village from white embers smoldering on blackened ground.
Scorched wooden planks, metal sheets, bricks and pots were strewn about, only a few trees remained standing. Some images showed animal carcasses.
“Reports that the junta torched an entire village in Magway, killing elderly residents, once again demonstrates that the military continues to commit terrible crimes and has no respect for the people of Myanmar,” said UK Embassy in Myanmar on Twitter, quoting Ambassador Dan Chugg.
Human rights groups accused Burmese forces of burning hundreds of villages in 2017 in an offensive that drove hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingyas to neighboring Bangladesh.
– Kyaw Zayar Lin (@kzy_linn) June 17, 2021
Security forces have denied setting the fires and in some cases blamed the flames on the Rohingya.
Western condemnation of the military government has increased following the use of force by the military against its opponents.
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, a human rights group, says security forces have killed some 865 civilians since the coup, although the military disputes the figure.