Soldiers from the Burma Army have stolen property from houses left empty in southern Shan State’s Mong Kung Township, following an outbreak of fighting between Shan and government forces that forced villagers to flee for their safety.
While locals stayed in nearby monasteries and relatives’ homes during clashes between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Burma Army in Ham Ngai village tract in early March, government troops reportedly searched homes and shops, taking supplies with them.
Sai Long, an MP for Mong Kung Constituency 1, confirmed the looting in Ham Ngai’s Ho Hpa village to SHAN.
“A shop owner called me this morning by phone. His shop was ransacked and looted. The owner has lost many things, I don’t exactly know how much,” Sai Lon said, adding that many houses were damaged.
Villagers said that the Burma Army’s military column stayed in Ho Hpai during the day and searched the houses and shops at that time. They returned to the jungle at night. In Koong Nyawng Hpa Sa village, the looting escalated.
“Only four houses were ransacked by soldiers on March 2. Then many houses and shops in our village were ransacked on March 3. They took everything. It’s really bad,” 40-year-old resident of the community Sai Mu said.
Locals discovered the looting when they returned home during the day to feed their livestock.
“Soldiers called us when they saw us. We tried to run away. They shot at us. We were lucky. Nobody was injured,” a villager, who remains an internally displaced person (IDP) told SHAN.
According to Sai Mu, government troops detained two villagers for one night after they had returned home to feed their cows and pigs for a night. They were released the following day and had not been beaten, they said.
Clashes have been occurring in Ham Ngai village tract since February 27. Tension remains high today. More than 500 IDPs from five villages have taken refuge in two monasteries.