Junta soldiers took over 60 civilians captive from a village in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan Township this week, accused them of supporting resistance groups and stole their valuables, local sources told Myanmar Now.
Residents of Ma Gyi Su village said a column of around 20 soldiers fired off their guns twice as they arrived on Wednesday afternoon, set a house on fire on the village’s south side and began raiding houses one by one. They ultimately took more than 60 people captive and told the rest of the village’s inhabitants to assemble at the village monastery.
One Ma Gyi Su resident noted that the raid was unexpected as there had been no fighting in the area at the time.
“There aren’t any ongoing battles around the village. They made the accusation that each household in this village was sending 300,000 kyat per month to the People’s Defence Force groups,” said the Ma Gyi Su resident, who asked to remain anonymous.
“The villagers here said they could barely make a living, let alone donate three lakh to the resistance forces, but the military just started beating and interrogating them,” he added.
Another villager said that many of those captured and beaten were women, children, or elderly, and that the soldiers had beaten most of the young adult men they captured so brutally that they were left with bleeding head wounds.
“There’s also one household where they intimidated a woman by showing her their bullets and threatened to take her to an interrogation centre if she didn’t give them her earrings. She had no choice but to hand them over,” he said.
According to the same villager, the soldiers ultimately left behind the oldest captives and children they had captured, taking some 30 remaining adults with them to use as human shields when they left Ma Gyi Su.
He added that the column let the hostages go when they reached Ywar Thar Yar village, located around two miles to the north. The junta column reportedly set up a base at the Ywar Thar Yar village monastery on Thursday, the day after the raid on Ma Gyi Su.
The villager also noted that some of the soldiers had been in uniform while others had been in plain clothes, and said they had also raided several other villages in Myingyan Township.
Another villager, who said he believed the soldiers were from Infantry Battalion 15 based in Myingyan, confirmed that they had beaten and stolen from their civilian captives in Ma Gyi Su.
“They made all the women lie prone on the ground and beat them on their backs with palm leaves. They took earrings from the ones that were wearing them. They also took expensive mobile phones from them,” said the villager, who also asked that his identity be withheld.
He added that the military frequently forces civilians to accompany them as human shields while moving between villages on raids.
The military council has not made any public response to reports about the behaviour of its armed forces.
Ma Gyi Su is located around 15 miles northeast of Myingyan. It has been a target of multiple raids and arson attacks by the army and pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militias.
Formerly a village of around 250 households, Ma Gyi Su is significantly smaller after the destruction wrought by military and pro-regime forces. Only a fraction of the village’s original population was still living there when the raid took place on Wednesday.
In one raid on the village, which the military carried out in May of this year, a resident in his 60s was killed and a 35-year-old paraplegic was left with severe burns.
Myingyan District is a stronghold of various armed groups opposed to the military regime, and has strategic importance due to the access it affords to Myaung Township, Sagaing Region and Yesagyo Township, Magway Region, located near the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers.