Boy shot dead by junta troops in Sagaing’s Kanbalu Township

Regime forces shot and killed a 13-year-old boy and torched two houses during a raid on a village in Sagaing’s Region’s Kanbalu Township earlier this week, according to local sources.

Residents of Zee Pin Thar said that around 60 soldiers and members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia entered the village without warning at around 9pm on Monday.

A number of people, including the victim, attempted to hide inside an outhouse, said one villager who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.  

“There were about 10 of them hiding in the outhouse. When the soldiers heard them make a sound, they started shooting,” said the villager.

The villagers pleaded with the soldiers to stop shooting, but were told to “stay still and be quiet,” he added, citing eyewitnesses.

At least 14 bullet shells were found at the scene following the incident, according to the villager.

The victim was identified as 13-year-old Thuta Zaw. His family’s home and another house were both burned to the ground during the attack, residents said.

It was unclear why the village had been targeted, as there had been no recent anti-regime activity in the area.

However, one villager suggested that it might have been due to residents’ refusal to form a Pyu Saw Htee group of their own.

“They wanted us to form a group in the village and we told them that we didn’t dare to,” said the villager, who recalled that administrators from the nearby town of Htan Kone had summoned village elders and monks on multiple occasions to urge them to form a militia group.

A member of a local defence team said that the boy’s death would likely be ignored by local police.

“The police only come when a military informer has been killed. In other cases, they just tell locals to take a photo and send it to them,” he said.

A total of 81 civilians, including three minors, have been killed in Kanbalu since last year’s coup, according to data released in late November by the Kyunhla Township Activists group, which compiles casualty figures in the area.

The military has pushed hard for the formation of Pyu Saw Htee groups in Sagaing Region, where it has faced strong resistance from armed groups opposed to the junta that seized power nearly two years ago

As part of its effort, it has recruited monks such as U Warthawa, a member of the ultranationalist Buddhist organisation Ma Ba Tha, to support its campaign to turn civilians against resistance forces.

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