SAGAING, Myanmar - A monk campaigning for militia groups backed by Myanmar's military has declared that anti-junta resistance villages must be "erased" from the country's map.
A junta mouthpiece broadcasted videos of the monk, U Warthawa, visiting villages in resistance strongholds in the Sagaing Region. The videos show him assisting the military's efforts to recruit new militia members.
Myanmar's coup regime has been organizing pro-military locals into militia groups in northwestern and central Myanmar over the last year, particularly in Sagaing, where the armed resistance movement has been powerful.
In an interview published on Sunday by a junta propaganda outlet, U Warthawa responded to the situation by saying that communities that financially support anti-regime forces should be eradicated.
U Warthawa is the abbot of a Buddhist temple in Hmaw Taw, a Muslim-majority village in Sagaing's Kanbalu Township.
He was previously affiliated with Ma Ba Tha, a now-defunct Buddhist extremist group known for its attacks on Myanmar's Muslim community, and is regarded locally as an ultranationalist.