Leaders of local defence force murdered by Pyu Saw Htee in Kanbalu

Two leaders of a village defence force in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township were killed by members of the pro-military Pyu Saw Htee group on Wednesday, according to local sources.

The two victims—Myint Maw, 43, and Aung Naing Htwe, 42—had been approached by a Pyu Saw Htee member who lured them with an offer to sell weapons, the sources said.

“They went to the place where they were supposed to meet the person with the weapons. We didn’t know the arms dealer was a Pyu Saw Htee guy from Htan Kone,” said a member of the local Lin Yone Ni, or Red Eagle, guerrilla group.

When word reached other defence force members that the pair had been arrested near the village Ywar Ma, about 6km from the town of Kanbalu, they went to the scene only to find that they had already been killed.

“We went as soon as we heard, but it was too late. They had been taken by the Pyu Saw Htee and shot just outside of Kanbulu. They left the bodies there,” said a member of another group called the Falcon guerrilla force.

The bodies were discovered by local residents and later collected by a social welfare group, he added.

Aung Naing Htwe and Myint Maw both had two children, and Myint Maw’s wife is pregnant with a third, residents of their home village of Inlegyi told Myanmar Now.

“This really broke our hearts and filled us with hate. They died for a small mistake. The two of them were the reason the soldiers and the Pyu Saw Htee didn’t dare terrorize our village,” said a fellow Inlegyi villager.

Kanbalu Township is known to have a high concentration of Pyu Saw Htee members. According to a resident of Hmaw Taw, a village about 12km from Kanbalu, the military has been training members of the group in a number of villages in the area.

In Hmaw Taw, junta soldiers were openly providing military training at the local monastery in December, he said.

“Around 10 soldiers and 5 police officers were providing military training in broad daylight. They even had bands playing music for them. There were over 50 Pyu Saw Htee members,” said the Hmaw Taw villager.

Tint, a leader of the Pyu Saw Htee group in Htan Kone, where Aung Naing Htwe and Myint Maw’s killer was from, reportedly killed three villagers on January 25 after telling them they had been summoned by the police.

The victims, Tun Win, Kyaw Win, and Shan Maung, were all in their sixties and had no ties to any of the anti-regime groups operating in the area, according to Yatha, the leader of an underground armed group based in Kanbalu.

“They’re just terrorizing civilians they have grudges against because of their own personal agendas. We are planning to avenge them,” he said.

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