Myanmar military bombs restless city, destroys dozens of homes

Thantlang residents have been forced to flee amid an ongoing military crackdown on dissent.

Myanmar troops have shelled a restive western city, destroying dozens of houses amid an ongoing crackdown on cities resisting the military coup.

Thantlang, in the western state of Chin, was bombed after a clash with a local self-defense force, according to media Khit Thit and news outlet The Chindwin.

The Southeast Asian country has been in chaos since a coup in February, with more than 1,200 people killed in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local watchdog group. Self-defense forces have emerged to confront the military, intensifying attacks and bloody reprisals.

A Thantlang resident who had fled the city after previous clashes told AFP news agency that the shelling began after members of the local forces captured a soldier.

“Shortly after it happened, heavy artillery was fired,” he said, adding that he had heard that between 80 and 100 houses had been destroyed.

“We do not know if the houses were burned after being hit by artillery or if the houses were set on fire.”

Images published in local media showed plumes of smoke rising skyward from the city perched amid green hills.

Save the Children said in a statement that “at least 100 buildings are believed to have been destroyed so far by the fire … which reportedly broke out around 11:00 am after the use of heavy weapons.”

The group said its office was destroyed amid heavy fighting and its 10 staff members were forced to flee. The agency was forced to suspend its life-saving health programs in Thantlang after violence broke out last month.

“The destruction caused by this violence does not make any sense,” Save the Children said. “The people who live here have already had to flee their homes to escape the violent clashes in recent weeks. Many will now have lost what little they had left ”.

Thantlang was home to nearly 10,000 people before residents were forced to flee last month, amid a surge in the military offensive in Chin state.

The United Nations said earlier this month that it feared a greater human rights catastrophe in Myanmar following the military coup.

UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews said he had received information that tens of thousands of troops and heavy weapons were being transferred to troubled regions in the north and northwest.

He also indicated that the military government had been involved in probable crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“We should all be prepared, as are the people in this part of Myanmar, for even more heinous mass crimes. I desperately hope I’m wrong, ”Andrews said.

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