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Junta forces who killed and dismembered five resistance fighters in Myinmu, Sagaing Region went on to murder 17 locals in a neighbouring township this week, Myanmar Now has learned.
The military column in question left Myinmu Township in the early evening on February 28, marching along the shores of the Ayeyarwady River until they arrived in the 80-household village of Tar Taing in Sagaing Township at 3am the next morning.
Michael, also known as Kyaw Zaw—a leader in a resistance group from Tar Taing who had been following the movements of the junta column—was later found disemboweled and dismembered there, with his head, legs and arms cut off.
The bodies of 11 men and three women taken hostage from Tar Taing were found across the Mu River near the village of Nyaung Yin in Myinmu, according to a spokesperson for the People’s Administration Team for Sagaing Township. The group falls under the publicly mandated National Unity Government.
The bodies of two more men were also found on Friday just north of Tar Taing.
“The civilians were captured during the military raid on the village, and I think [Michael] ran into the column while he was scouting the area, and maybe he got injured and captured,” the local administration’s spokesperson said.
Junta-allied social media pages reported that Michael was killed by one of his own comrades in Tar Taing, which the People’s Administration Team dismissed as false.
Bullet wounds were found in the heads and chests of the slain civilian victims, and their bodies also showed signs of torture.
Among those killed was Michael’s 35-year-old brother Tun Tun, as well as Kyaw Kyaw, 34; Kyaw Soe, 35; Nga Lin, 45; and Soe Naing, 47. The others had not been identified at the time of reporting.
Prior to raiding Tar Taing, the same 70-soldier column under the Meiktila-based Light Infantry Division (LID) 99 rampaged through Ayadaw and Myinmu townships for days after arriving in Ma Le Thar village in two helicopters on February 24.
As they proceeded to strike villages including Pa Dat Taing, Nyaung Pin Kan and Kan Taw, the troops killed and dismembered five members of local defence forces.
The military council has not officially acknowledged the killings in southern Sagaing Region.
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing declared martial law in 37 townships nationwide in early February after admitting to only having complete control over half of the country’s 330 townships in a meeting of the National Defence and Security Council on January 31.
Many of the townships subjected to the new restrictions were in Sagaing Region, a known resistance stronghold.