Intimidation and threats of violence from Burma government troops forced the entire of population of Nam Si In village in western Kachin state to flee over the weekend, according to villagers who recently escaped.
The now abandoned village is situated between Kahtan Yang and Kamaing on the Myitkyina to Hpakant road, an area that has seen heavy fighting as the military seeks to drive the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) out of the lucrative jade rich region.
The trouble in the village started on Friday when a Burma Army column with more than 60 soldiers arrived. Shortly after entering the village, the troops from Light Infantry Division No. 88 gathered most of the men in the village and proceeded to tie them up. The villagers were then interrogated about the KIO, said a witness who declined to give their name.
Most of the men were later released however Nam Si In village headman U Naing Linn and a fellow resident Lagyawm Gun are still in military custody, according to a villager.
Upon release most of the villagers fled to nearby Kamaing where they are sheltering in churches or living with relatives. The local Baptist church is now sheltering more than 170 internally displaced persons, overwhelmingly the displaced are elderly or children, a church pastor told Kachin News Group (KNG).
The church has received five sacks of rice from the local chapter of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and 500,000 Kyat (US$587) from the Myitkyina based Kachin Baptist Association, according to a church official.
Residents of two villages located close to Nam Si In, Loi Seng and Kahtan Yang tell the Kachin News Group that they are worried that government troops will come soon.
Since the Kachin conflict restarted in June 2011 an estimated 100,000 people have been forced to flee from their homes in Kachin and parts of neighboring Shan state.
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