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Myanmar fighting escalates , 7 killed in Chin state crossfire

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Yangon — Seven civilians were killed and nine others injured in fighting between the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) and the Arakan Army (AA) in Chin State’s Paletwa Township on Tuesday, according to the state’s municipal affairs minister, U Soe Htet.

The victims were all from the village of Nanchaungwa in Paletwa Township. “The injured are receiving hospital treatment. They were hit when [military] aircraft shot at the enemy,” he told The Irrawaddy.The Arakan Army is increasingly active in Chin state because it seeks to use the border with India’s Mizoram state to evade Tatmadaw’s dragnet and source essential supplies for its fighters. India launched several military operations like Ops Sunrise last year to deprive the Arakan Army of its bases in Mizoram because the rebels are disturbing implementation of India’s Kaladan Multimodal Transport project. 

One of the victims was a three-year-old and the rest were three men and three women aged between 22 and 39.

A three-year-old and 12-year-old were injured along with women aged between 18 and 62.

A 22-year-old bricklayer was also hit by a bullet while working at the Kaladan River bridge construction site.

They were taken to Paletwa public hospital, which has no surgeon and the bullets could not be removed.

“The hospital can only relieve pain. We are working to transfer them to Mindat Hospital if their conditions do not improve today. The bricklayer was reportedly hit in his lungs,” said U Soe Htet.

A villager who fled and spoke on condition of anonymity said clashes occurred less than 2 km from the village before the military carried out air attacks at around 4 pm on Tuesday.

“Nine homes and a rice mill burned down,” he said.

A total of 185 villagers fled to Nay La Village following the air attacks and have been taking shelter in religious buildings.

Two women were seriously wounded and one needed blood transfusions, said the villager.

“They were injured in their arms and shins. The two injured children were not hit but they were burned as they fled through fire,” he added.

It has been nearly two years since Myanmar’s military and the AA engaged in bitter clashes in Paletwa.

Bu Tan Paing of Anglican Communion in Paletwa Township said the fighting on Tuesday took place around 1 km from Paletwa. There was a fire on the outskirts of Paletwa caused by artillery shells in the fighting along the Kaladan River.

“We could even see where the artillery shells came from,” he said.

He added that he heard gunfire in the hills near the village of Meeletwa on the eastern bank of Paletwa, where the Tatmadaw’s Light Infantry Battalion 289 is based and where there have been clashes since March.

Over 2,300 villagers have sought shelter in Paletwa and other villages, according to civil society organizations.

The Chin State government said there are over 380 villages and 100,000 people in Paletwa Township and around 60,000 of them are being affected by the fighting.

Courtesy – Irrawaddy 

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