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Army killing of villagers in Myanmar

May 14, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

BANGKOK — Reports indicate that soldiers belonging to Myanmar’s military government conducted a brutal assault on a village in central Myanmar last week, resulting in the massacre of over 30 civilians. These reports were corroborated on Monday through interviews with a local official and a survivor of the attack.

The incident occurred on Saturday morning in Let Htoke Taw village in Sagaing region’s Myinmu township, as documented by independent media sources. This atrocity marks the third mass killing within a short span in Myanmar's ongoing civil conflict.

The Associated Press was unable to independently verify the specifics of the event, and the military government did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The government has previously denied accusations of targeting civilians, sometimes attributing such acts to resistance factions.

Since the military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, Myanmar has been engulfed in turmoil. Peaceful protests were met with violent suppression, sparking widespread armed resistance and plunging the nation into a state akin to civil war.

The recent wave of violence includes two other mass killings: an airstrike in central Magway region on Thursday, claiming the lives of at least 15 individuals, including members of a resistance group and civilians gathered at a monastery for a meeting, and a conflict in Mandalay region the same day resulting in 32 casualties under disputed circumstances.

According to a local administrator aligned with the opposition National Unity Government, who managed to escape the village, 33 individuals, including teenagers and elderly residents, were killed during the raid on Let Htoke Taw. Allegedly, the assault involved 100-200 soldiers and militia members associated with the military, purportedly in search of members of the People's Defense Force, the armed wing of the National Unity Government.

A villager from Let Htoke Taw recounted the harrowing experience of the attack, stating that residents attempted to flee as soldiers opened fire around 5 a.m. Those unable to escape sought refuge in the village's Buddhist monastery.

Upon being detained in the monastery along with approximately 100 others, the villager described being interrogated by soldiers regarding the whereabouts of local resistance leaders. Despite facing beatings, those questioned denied any knowledge. Subsequently, soldiers commenced shooting, resulting in numerous fatalities.

The survivor, wounded during the ordeal, recounted playing dead until the soldiers departed around 7 a.m., after which they set fire to the bodies of deceased individuals and took 17 villagers, including his family, as hostages. These hostages were later released outside the village.

Both the survivor and the administrator reported widespread destruction inflicted by the soldiers, including the burning of hundreds of homes and destruction of vital infrastructure such as water pumps. Sagaing, a focal point of resistance against the military, has endured repeated offensives, displacing countless civilians from their homes. Let Htoke Taw village, situated west of Mandalay, has previously been targeted, with hundreds of houses set ablaze during prior conflicts.


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