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Thousands flee Myanmar town as military, rebels clash

September 22, 2021

Most of Thantlang's 10,000 people have escaped amid fighting between the military and the anti-junta movement. The resistance fighters claim 30 soldiers have been killed.

People attempting to extinguish a fire as houses burn in Namg Kar village in Myanmar
Fighting between anti-junta dissidents and the military has been ongoing for the past week in western MyanmarImage: AFP

Thousands have fled a Myanmar town amid fighting between anti-junta dissidents and the military, during which soldiers bombed civilian homes, according to residents and local media on Wednesday.

Most of Thantlang's 10,000 people have escaped, seeking shelter in surrounding areas. Some of them have fled across the Indian border, a community leader said.

The town in the western Chin State has seen buildings set ablaze after days of fighting between militia forces opposed to military rule and the army which seized power in a coup on February 1.

In India's neighboring state of Mizoram, the head of a civil society group said some 5,500 civilians had fled Myanmar and arrived in just two districts over the past week, as they scrambled to escape a military crackdown.

During fighting last weekend in Thantlang, around 20 homes were set on fire.

Pastor shot dead

Troops reportedly killed a Christian pastor who tried to extinguish flames, according to the Myanmar Now news portal. However, state media disputed the report.

Salai Thang, a community leader, said four civilians had been killed and 15 injured over several weeks of conflict with the military also using air strikes after an army base was overrun.

The Chin Defense Force, who are opposed to the military, said 30 soldiers had been killed.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi's government was ousted by the military earlier this year, sparking a nationwide uprising that the junta has tried to stamp out.

Attacks on the junta have increased after ousted lawmakers called for a "people's defensive war" earlier this month.

jsi/dj (Reuters, AFP)