Myanmar army soldiers tied up and killed four men from Sagaing Region’s Depayin Township on Friday morning, local sources told Myanmar Now.
A volunteer assisting displaced persons from the township who goes by the name Zero said that a military convoy of some 100 soldiers occupied Nagartwin village and murdered four of its residents.
He alleged that the troops were aware that the victims were civilians and not members of the anti-junta armed resistance group the People’s Defence Force (PDF), which the military has been attempting to crush.
“The military is not only targeting PDF members now. They’re just killing everyone they run into,” Zero said. “They also torch houses and huts whenever they feel like it. The only way to be free from such a barbaric institution is to fight them until they are no more.”
The victims were identified as Maung Toe, Maung Moe, Kan Nyunt and Kyaw Win, all from Nagartwin. Their bodies were discovered by villagers who returned to Nagartwin after the Myanmar army troops had left.
Myanmar Now was unable to confirm further details about the deceased.
The military council’s information department did not answer Myanmar Now’s calls inquiring about the death of the men.
Citing eyewitness reports, Zero said that a 60-year-old Buddhist nun also died of a heart attack after the military fired an artillery shell into Nagartwin.
The convoy that occupied Nagartwin and is accused of killing the four men reportedly marched towards Winyan, Kone Yoe and Inboke villages on Friday.
On Friday evening, villagers from nearby Inboke fled when the troops arrived, a resident said.
“We could hear loud noises coming from the houses in the village but no one dared to go back into the village to check as the soldiers were stationed there,” the villager, who was among those displaced, told Myanmar Now.
He added that this was the fifth time in recent months that Inboke had been raided by the Myanmar army, and that the majority of the community’s residents had already left in search of safety.
In northwestern Depayin’s Hnaw region, hundreds of soldiers have reportedly been raiding villages including Selel and Setaw, forcing locals to flee.
Starting on November 8, the military transported some 150 soldiers into western Depayin using six helicopters, in what area residents speculate was a desperate attempt to regain control of the region, which is a resistance stronghold.
Troops destroyed at least one home in Winyan and four in Kone Yoe one day after the arrival of the reinforcements.
On December 7, the military carried out attacks from both the land and air on villages around eight miles west of Depayin’s urban centre, causing mass displacement.
Cpt Aye Thazin Myint, a member of the junta’s information department, said at a press conference in early July that villagers had fled their homes after being told to leave by PDF members, not Myanmar army troops.
“The PDF threatened the villagers, saying that the security forces would arrest and torture them, so the villagers have been fleeing as soon as the security forces have arrived in their villages. They’ve been purposely framing the security forces in this way,” she said, adding that “West-leaning media” had been mistakenly describing those fleeing as refugees.