Elderly IDP among civilians killed, beheaded by military in Depayin Township

In addition to executing villagers and mutilating their bodies, junta forces took 21 local people captive, including minors, and had not released them as of Monday

Since mid-October, residents of western Depayin Township, Sagaing Region have repeatedly discovered the bodies of fellow civilians killed and sometimes dismembered by raiding junta forces, according to local people and resistance sources. 

In the past week alone, four bodies were found in Thein Bar village, two in Shan Taw village, and one each in Min Te Kone and Boke Htan villages.  At least five of the victims had been beheaded, including 60-year-old Nyo Win, villagers and defence group members said.

Sources noted that it had only been possible to determine five of the victims’ identities, but that all of them were known to be civilians.

Junta soldiers setting fires in western Depayin Township on August 3, 2022 (Supplied)

A column of around 150 troops had been present in the area from October 18, according to local residents. 

Nyo Win, an internally displaced person (IDP) whose body was found in Min Te Kone, had been sheltering there with his older sister after fleeing his home, according to Ko Phyo, a spokesperson for a Depayin-based resistance group. 

“The two of them were taken captive in the forest near Min Te Kone. The captors took the 70-year-old Hla Shin’s earrings,” Ko Phyo said, referring to the slain man’s sister. “As for Nyo Win, they subjected him to questioning, killed him, then cut his head off and left.”

The four bodies found in Thein Bar have yet to be identified because they were found with their heads, hands and feet removed. Decomposition and scavenging dogs had also caused damage to the mutilated bodies, according to Kaung Kin Gyi, the leader of  a different local defence group. 

“Their heads were cut off, their feet were cut off, their hands were cut off too. They also cut the victims’ torsos from their chests to their pubic bones,” Kaung Kin Gyi said. 

Photos sent to Myanmar Now by local residents showed three bodies with the heads removed. 

Although the junta column has left the area, some villagers have stayed in hiding out of fear, and it has been impossible to identify all the victims without more information from fellow villagers who knew them, locals said. 

In addition to killing villagers, the soldiers took 21 civilians captive during their raids on the villages and have not yet released them, according to Ko Phyo.

“It is difficult to predict what the column is going to do. They act like they might turn back at times and like they might keep advancing at times,” he said. 

“Some people thought the column wouldn’t come to their village and didn’t flee. Some went back to take care of their livestock. Some went back after going to the market. That’s how they were captured,” he added. 

The junta soldiers carried out raids in the area for more than 10 days. In Wa Bar village, they burned down seven houses and four food storehouses, destroying over 800 sacks of rice and nearly 1,000 viss (1,680 kg) of oil, according to Ko Phyo. 

The military council has not made any public statements on the events near Depayin. Depayin is located 47 miles from Sagaing Region’s capital city of Monywa, where 17 regime battalions are stationed. A stronghold of the anti-junta resistance, Depayin Township has frequently come under attack by junta forces, who have destroyed tens of thousands of civilians’ homes in arson attacks in Sagaing Region.

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