New report sheds light on Myanmar regime’s arms brokers

Residents have accused the Myanmar Army and the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) of carrying out an arson attack on a village in Hpakant township, Kachin state on Wednesday morning, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of houses and the death of several civilians.

A day earlier, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had attacked the police station in the village in question – Sezin, about 50 km southwest of the town of Hpakant – but military airstrikes prevented the ethnic armed organization to capture the post.

The fire followed a day-long battle on Tuesday in which Myanmar military troops who had been airlifted to the site fought alongside the SNA against the KIA, firing heavy artillery and dropping weapons. bombs that destroyed two houses.

At least eight airstrikes were launched during the episode of the fighting, residents told Myanmar Now.

Junta and SNA forces reportedly began burning houses in Sezin’s 4 and 5 neighborhoods at 1 a.m., about five hours after the KIA was forced to withdraw.

“The last time they came here, they threatened to burn the village down. Since then, we have been worried about it, ”says a 40-year-old resident of Sézin.

Another resident of Sézin explained that the first houses targeted were located near the village police station and the monastery.

“There is not much left in the village because they carried out the attack in three different places. We also couldn’t go and put out the fire because they would shoot at us,” he said, describing how SNA troops fired on civilians trying to put out the fire after the army withdrew. KIA.

Residents speculated that between 200 and 400 of Sezin’s 700 homes had been destroyed.

At 4am on Wednesday, the majority of the villagers fled to the villages of Hawng Par and Tar Ma Khan, 20 miles away, Sezin’s second man said.

At least nine villagers were reportedly shot as they fled.

“A couple and their child were planning to leave around 6am and they were all shot,” the local man said.

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the number of civilian casualties in the attack.

Some 200 residents who were unable to leave are believed to be trapped inside Sasannapala Monastery, located near the village police station, and held hostage by occupation troops at the time of writing.

“We were told that the army wouldn’t allow them to leave the monastery compound. Even monks can’t leave,” said a 50-year-old woman from Sézin, saying she had heard that at least one person, a girl, had been shot for trying to leave.

KIA forces managed to overrun an army outpost a day before their failed attempt to take over a police station on Tuesday

When contacted by Myanmar Now to comment on allegations of arson and murder in the village of Hpakant township, SNA spokesman Col. Sai Aung Mein claimed that KIA members and the anti-junta People’s Defense Forces (PDF) – who often fight alongside the Kachin army – were the ones who burned down the houses.

“Most of the people we interviewed told us that it was the PDF and KIA who burned down the village. I heard they had set up a post inside the police station and they were still shooting,” he told Myanmar Now.

Colonel Sai Aung Mein added that SNA troops were still stationed at a small base near Hpakant’s border with Homalin township in Sagaing region, and had not engaged in any battle with the KIA since Monday.

Myanmar Now attempted to contact KIA Information Officer Colonel Naw Bu, but calls went unanswered.

Residents have previously accused the SNA of carrying out searches in Sezin for two days in late June and said tension rose in the area after the KIA set up a post in the southern part of the village on June 30.

Kachin forces surrounded and attacked a junta column that had been carrying out assaults near Sezin on 16 July. soldiers.

After regrouping, the junta forces established a post on a hill east of Sezin. The KIA attacked the station, as well as an SNA checkpoint, on Monday, overrunning both sites.