Five bodies found in junta-occupied village in Sagaing Township

Three of the victims were caught while hiding when soldiers arrived nearly two weeks earlier, while the other two were members of the local defence team

Five bodies, including four that were badly burned, were discovered on Sunday in a village in northeastern Sagaing Township, according to local residents and resistance sources.

The victims were killed by a column of around 100 junta troops that had left the village of Kyunutaw, in the Sa Mun village tract, earlier the same day, the sources said.

The regime forces had arrived in the village nearly two weeks earlier and were using it as a base to carry out operations in the surrounding area.

Three of the victims—Nyo Win, 45, Kyaw Thu Win, around 40, and San Htwe Aung, 22—were abducted while hiding in fields near the village when the soldiers arrived on August 21, residents of the area told Myanmar Now.

The other two were identified as Zin Thu, 22, and Thu Htoo San, 15, who were both members of the village defence team captured two days later, according to the team’s leader, Kalar Lay.

“Two members of our team were killed. One was shot dead and the other was set on fire, I think while he was still alive,” he said, adding that the bodies of the other three victims were also burned.

Eleven houses and three farm huts were also reportedly torched by the junta soldiers while they were stationed in the village.

By Monday, the junta column had reached the village of Thone Sint Kan in neighbouring Wetlet Township, sources in the area reported.

Thone Sint Kan has been under the control of the military since mid-July, when soldiers raided the village and torched several houses, killing a paraplegic man who was unable to escape the flames.

There are seven regime columns, each with between 70 and 100 troops, active in Wetlet and Shwebo townships, according to local resistance sources.

The heavy military presence in the area appears to be aimed at protecting a vital section of the railway line linking Mandalay to the Kachin State capital Myitkyina, the sources said. 

The junta is reportedly planning to reopen the line, which has been inoperative since early 2020, in order to use it to transport weapons and other supplies to the north, where the military is fighting the Kachin Independence Army and other anti-regime forces.

In its latest report released on August 31, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) announced that nearly 50,000 people had been displaced by conflict in Myanmar over the last week of August, mostly in Sagaing Region, Kachin State, and the southeastern part of the country.

UNOCHA estimates that there are nearly two million internally displaced persons in Myanmar, including 1.6 million who have been forced to flee their homes since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021.

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