Four civilians and a local militia member were found killed Monday after a three-day raid by junta troops and allied fighters on a village in northwestern Myanmar’s Sagaing region that saw 10,000 civilians flee the area, Myanmar sources say.
The five victims, whose charred bodies were discovered after being left behind by departing junta soldiers, were buried by residents of Chaung-U township’s Nyaungbin Tae village when they returned following the attack, one local villager told RFA on Tuesday.
A military column combining Myanmar military and fighters from the Pyu Saw Htee, a pro-junta armed group, had entered the village on Saturday, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“When they arrived, all the villagers ran to safety, leaving only four or five people behind in the village,” the source said. “During the raid, one of the village guards was killed by artillery fire, but we weren’t able to recover his body until the soldiers left the village on June 20.
“We later found all the bodies and buried them yesterday,” the source said.
Killed in Nyaungbin Tae by junta troops and allied fighters were 20-year-old Toe Naing Win, a member of a local People’s Defense Force unit set up to oppose junta rule; Paw Kyi, 52, whose body was found burned in a house; and 37-year-old Ne Win and 49-year-old Pyay Aye, whose bodies were found in a cornfield nearby, sources said.
The body of Aung Min, 48, was later found outside the village, they said.
The June 18 raid on the village was carried out by a force of around 80 junta soldiers, all in plain clothes, a local anti-junta militia member told RFA, also declining to be named.
“There was no fighting, no clash,” the source said. “They entered the village after shelling it with heavy weapons, and one of our comrades was killed by an artillery shell. Two others were injured, one in the hand and the other on his body.
“Four men were killed in the village altogether, three of them when their house was set on fire. One other man was shot dead in the road when he would not carry the soldiers’ stuff,” he said.
The soldiers may have been attached to Light Infantry Battalions 357, 368 and 369, and were accompanied by pro-junta fighters from the Pyu Saw Htee pro-junta militia, he added.
Before leaving Nyaungbin Tae, soldiers looted the village’s nearly 275 homes of cash, jewelry and other valuables, villagers said.
‘We all had to run’
Also speaking to RFA, a 70-year-old villager confirmed that junta soldiers had attacked Nyaungbin Tae with heavy weapons. “We all had to run, and older women who could not run had to be taken away on motorcycles,” the villager said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“One woman who was paralyzed had to be left behind in the village,” he said.
“The men who were killed were too attached to their livestock and refused to leave. They were seized and killed. Now I don’t even want to hear anything about the army, and I don’t want to see them,” he added.
Requests for comment by junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Htun received no reply.
Sagaing has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting to take place between junta troops and opposition forces since Myanmar’s military overthrew civilian rule in a February 2021 coup.
Villagers say junta forces have indiscriminately attacked communities, killing civilians, torching homes and forcing thousands to flee in search of safety.
Translated by Khin Maung Nyane for RFA Burmese. Written in English by Richard Finney.