April 13, 2021
Chin News News

Elderly Chin Woman Gunned Down in Abandoned Village Recently Torched

An elderly Chin woman was killed this morning after being hit by a spray of bullets fired by an unknown armed group near Paletwa, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reports.

The victim, Hawi Khin, (About 70 years old) was among a group of 10 people who were on their way to fetch firewood from their abandoned village in Meeletwa when they came under attack with automatic gunfire from unknown gunmen hiding in a nearby wood.

“The group was on their way to fetch firewood from Meeletwa Village on the east side of Kaldan River when they were indiscriminately fired upon by an unknown armed group taking position in the bush in a nearby wooded area at around 9:30 a.m. They went fleeing back to their boat as bullets were spraying at them. Daw Hawi Khin was hit by a bullet that pieced through the waist area from the back and burst open her abdomen. She died on the spot,” CHRO quoted a local source as saying.

All of them are natives of Meeletwa Village and had fled to Paletwa Town in late February, where they are now living in temporary shelters as internally displaced persons.

“The villagers taking shelters in Paletwa Town are running out of firewood for cooking and 10 of them volunteered to fetch the firewood we left behind in the village. They were fired upon by an unknown armed group from a distance of about 200 yards from a nearby wood, which sent them fleeing back to their boat. The victim was hit while inside the boat. Her body was initially placed in a mortuary at the hospital before being buried at about 1:00 p.m.,” the Village Administrator of Meetletwa said.

Although no one can definitely ascertain which of the armed groups had fired on the villagers, local people say Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (289) are known to be active in the area.

The area along the Kaladan River has been a hotspot for heavy fighting between the Arakan Army and Burmese troops in recent weeks with the AA taking positions on the mountain stretches on the west and Burmese soldiers launching assaults from the eastern bank of Kaladan River, using helicopter gunships and fighter jets.

Because of frequent fighting, few people had dared to navigate through Kaladan River in recent months, which is used as the main transport route between Rakhine and the southern Chin State’s town of Paletwa. The virtual shut down of the waterway has resulted in widespread food shortages for communities living in Paletwa Town and its surrounding villages who traditionally rely on basic food supplies coming in from Kyauktaw in Rakhine State.

With about 130 households, Meeletwa is located on the eastern bank of Kaladan River near Paletwa Town. The entire community had abandoned the village earlier this year on February 19, 2020 and fled to Paletwa Town for shelter after heavy armed clashes took place between the AA and the Burmese military inside the village, which saw many civilian casualties.  

The abandoned village was set alight by an unknown armed group last Saturday, on May 26, and over 100 houses were burnt to the ground.

As monsoon approaches, internally displaced persons now living in make shift camps in Paletwa and Sami Towns, numbering over 11000 people are worried about how to meet the fuel needs to cook their meals during the wet season. Earlier this month, one person died and seven people from IDP camps in Sami Town were seriously injured in a road accident when their vehicle overturned while trying to transport firewood from a nearby village. #

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