Junta troops kill three civilian hostages after battle in Tanintharyi

The military unit reportedly forced the men to act as human shields before executing them and clothing them in uniforms belonging to the resistance

Three local men were detained and executed by Myanmar army soldiers carrying out an offensive in Dawei District, Tanintharyi Region last week, according to a member of an area resistance group. 

According to Ziwaka, the officer in charge of the Dawei District People’s Defence Team, the victims were residents of Padauk Kyi village in Thayetchaung Township. They were aged 18, 22 and 41, respectively, local media outlet Dawei Watch reported.

They were taken hostage by a 100-soldier junta column while a 30-minute battle broke out in the area with joint forces under the Karen National Union (KNU) and the People’s Defence Force.

The military unit killed the three people once the fighting ended. 

“The junta column used them as human shields, killing them on the road. Then they clothed the deceased in the available uniforms [of the resistance forces] and took a photo,” Ziwaka said. 

The troops responsible were reportedly sent from Palaw Township in Tanintharyi’s Myeik District, and had been recently stationed in the village of Kyaukse, having arrived there after the leader of the community’s junta-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia was fatally shot, along with his wife, by a local guerrilla group on September 19.

Pyu Saw Htee members joined the regime soldiers in the September 23 battle, resistance fighters said. 

In Yebyu Township, also in Dawei District, two army columns have been recently patrolling the area, causing some 10,000 people from five villages to flee. 

The same column linked to the September 23 murders is also accused of burning down eight homes in three Yebyu villages, and forcing relatives of a resistance fighter to act as human shields. 

A junta warship has also been stationed offshore in the Andaman Sea near the Dawei deep sea port which is located in the township, residents said. Junta vessels fired artillery shells at three villages in Palaw Township on September 11, reportedly taking dozens of civilians hostage. 

On September 11, the junta army and navy attacked Palaw Town, a seaside town in Myeik District, killing six civilians and 10 resistance fighters.

Ziwaka told Myanmar Now that since the beginning of the month, the junta has been reinforcing its presence throughout Dawei, often posing as plainclothes civilians and resistance fighters while carrying out military operations. 

“This can lead to misunderstandings when we [the resistance groups] cannot connect effectively with one other,” he explained.

Since August, the Myanmar army has been advancing through Tanintharyi. That month, more than 35,000 people fled their homes in the region due to increased fighting, according to a local aid group supporting internally displaced persons in Myanmar’s south.  

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