Hundreds of Buddhist monks left two major Myanmar cities on Sunday (Jan 16), one of the thousands lately evacuated by fierce fighting between the military and rebel groups challenging last year’s coup, according to a witness.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership was overthrown 11 months ago by a military coup, which led to substantial protests and violent crackdowns that killed over 1,400 people and generated dozens of insurgent groups to resist the state.
Last week, heavy violence broke in Loikaw town, in eastern Myanmar’s Kayah state, causing the UN to predict that almost 90,000 people had left, with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) estimating the total at 170,000.
Twelve temples that were home to Monks in neighboring Demoso town have also deserted, according to the monk, who is one among the 5,000 people who have moved to eastern Shan state.
Rebel fighters have taken control of churches and apartments in Loikaw, as per the report a police officer who wished to remain anonymous, adding that they have also targeted a prison.
Both Demoso and Loikaw are rebel bases, with violence in Kayah and Kayin states intensifying since December, according to the UN.
At least 35 people were reportedly burnt in Kayah state over Christmas, including two Save the Children NGO employees, in a massacre perpetrated by junta forces.