Dozens of homes destroyed in Myanmar military shelling .

Myanmar troops have shelled a restive western town, destroying dozens of houses amid an ongoing crackdown against towns resisting the military coup.

Thantlang, in western Chin State, was shelled after a confrontation with a local self-defence force, according to Khit Thit media and The Chindwin news outlet. Thantlang was home to nearly 10,000 people before residents were forced to flee last month, amid a surge in the military’s offensive in Chin State.

The Southeast Asian country has been in chaos since a coup in February, with more than 1,200 people killed in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group. Self-defence forces have sprung up to take on the military, escalating attacks and bloody reprisals.

A Thantlang resident who had fled the town following earlier clashes told the AFP news agency that the shelling began after members of the local forces captured a soldier. “Soon after it happened, heavy artilleries were fired,” he said, adding he had heard between 80 and 100 houses had been destroyed.

“We don’t know if houses were burned after being hit by artilleries or if they set fire to the houses.” Pictures published on local media showed pillars of smoke billowing into the sky from the town perched amid green hills.

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