Eight villages in Chin State’s Paletwa Township have suffered damage due to clashes between the Burmese military and the Arakan Army (AA), local sources say.
Fighting occurred near Kha Moung Wa village in late January, with the Burma Army reportedly attacking the AA through the use of helicopter gunships; shells landed in the village.
According to one resident, all of the people in Kha Moung Wa fled.
“We fled because of the air attack. Bombs landed in our village. All of the houses have already collapsed, so we cannot live in our village,” a villager from Kha Moung Wa told Khonumthung News. “We lived in this village for so many years. Now we have had to leave. We had to leave our belongings behind. This is a very difficult situation for us.”
In a recent interview with VOA, the Burma Army’s Brig-Gen Zaw Minn Htun denied that there was shelling from helicopters in Paletwa Township.
The other communities affected by fighting include Kin Talin, Khaw Sa Chaung, Ku Chuang Phya, Sa tin Wa, Phwe Lite Wa, Pe Taung and Thar Yar Kone. A total of around 1,000 people took refuge in Paletwa and Kyauktaw townships, and others fled across the border to Bangladesh.
According to a volunteer working with internally displaced people (IDP) in the area, Ko Tin Tun Aung, there are no IDP camps established in Paletwa Township and people fleeing the fighting have had to stay in the homes of relatives.
“The Chin State government isn’t effectively helping the IDPs. Therefore, we have to help our Rakhine IDPs as much as we can,” he said, adding that ethnic Rakhine IDPs have been placed in another Rakhine village, the name of which he did not reveal for security reasons. “Authorities may threaten IDPs, telling them they must return home,” Ko Tin Tun Aung explained.
Khonumthung News reported that the Burma Army sent reinforcement troops into Matupi Township, in southern Chin State, concerning many locals that clashes in the area will intensify.