Burned bodies discovered in Wetlet Township village occupied by junta troops

Residents of a village in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township that was occupied by regime forces last week say they discovered the badly burned remains of six villagers when they returned to their homes on Thursday.

The bodies belonged to six men who were detained when junta troops raided the village of Thitseintgyi on January 30, residents said.

“We found the bodies stacked up in a pile. They were so completely burned that they could hardly be recognized as human,” said one 55-year-old man who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

The village, which is located on the bank of the Ayeyarwady River, came under attack last week after members of a local People’s Defence Force (PDF) tried to stop three motorboats carrying around 40 soldiers at a security checkpoint.

After an exchange of fire, during which the soldiers used artillery, the lightly armed PDF members fled, according to one local man who took part in the clash.

Most other residents also fled, taking shelter at a nearby monastery after the soldiers entered the village, but six were captured and held as hostages, the PDF fighter said.

“We were going to mount an assault on the soldiers when we had the chance, but they had taken hostages, so our village leader told us to wait,” he said.

‘Alive and well fed’

Three of the villagers were arrested in their homes, while three others were taken into custody when they returned to the village to collect some of their belongings, according to family members.

“We were just arriving at the monastery when they decided to go back to get their motorcycles. That’s when they ran into some soldiers,” said Htet Htet, the wife of Ko Ko Lin Maung, one of two brothers who were captured.


The wife of the other brother, Thura Tun, said that the troops, who forced women at the monastery to cook for them, assured them that the detained men would not be harmed.

“They said they wouldn’t lay a finger on them, but then they shot them,” she said.

The other victims were identified as Min Min Tun, father and son Myint Aung and Thel Tun Aung, and Zaw Min Tun, who had returned to the village while the soldiers were still there.

The men were last seen being used as human shields, according to one resident.

“Several people saw them with their hands tied together, walking in front of a column of soldiers,” said the man, adding that they were heading towards hills southwest of the village.

When the troops later returned to the village, the men were no longer with them, he added. 

“One of the monks asked them where the six men were, so they told him that they were alive and being well fed,” he said.

Burning flesh

People living near the hill where the bodies were later found said they heard cries for help and could smell burning flesh, suggesting that the victims were burned alive, according to a spokesperson for a local PDF group.

Thitseintgyi is one of many villages in Sagaing Region that have been subjected to repeated raids by regime forces in recent months, forcing thousands to flee.

In many cases, villagers who didn’t manage to escape have later been found dead. In some instances, their bodies have been burned beyond recognition.

In early December, 11 badly charred bodies were discovered in Done Taw, a village in Salingyi Township, following a raid targeting anti-regime resistance forces.

Similar incidents have also been reported more recently in neighbouring Magway Region, as well as in Kayah (Karenni) State, where the bodies of dozens of civilians were reduced to bones and ash in a massacre carried out on Christmas Eve.

Myanmar’s military junta routinely denies responsibility for such atrocities, despite abundant evidence of its involvement in attacks on civilians.

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