Military slaughters 14 locals including teenagers and resistance fighters in sudden attack on Sagaing village

The soldiers reportedly gouged out civilian hostages’ eyes, ran their hands through with knives, and tortured them at length before executing them by gunshot

Content warning: This article contains descriptions of military executions that might be disturbing for some readers.

Junta forces massacred 14 people–including minors, adult civilians, and resistance members–in a surprise, nighttime raid on Sone Chaung village tract in Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township, according to local sources. 

Without warning, a junta column of around 80 soldiers entered Sone Chaung, located on the west bank of the Chindwin River some 15 miles northeast of Yinmabin, from four directions close to 2am. 

The soldiers shot three resistance fighters dead during the raid and took civilian hostages, whom they later executed as they departed the village, local residents said. Myanmar Now has not been able to verify how many of the remaining 11 villagers were members of local resistance forces.

The victims included two 15-year-old boys, a 17-year-old boy and eleven adults in their 40s, according to local sources. The soldiers killed the resistance members immediately upon finding them during the raid, but subjected the civilian hostages to lengthy torture before executing each of them with a bullet to the head, sources said. 

“Their eyes were gouged out,” said a resident of Yinmabin Township in his 30s who had seen the bodies. “There were stab wounds all the way through their hands and pieces of flesh on their legs had been sliced off.”

Photographs provided to Myanmar Now showed wounds indicative of torture on the victims’ faces, chests, stomachs, and limbs.

Heavy rains made it virtually impossible to leave the village during the raid, leaving the residents helpless to escape capture. 

“They conducted the raid during a heavy downpour. I think they must have had a good informant. They knew exactly which houses to go to, which people to capture, and which to kill. The bodies were found in various spots,” another local man said.

Local people retrieved the bodies from where they were scattered around the village and cremated them together on Friday afternoon. 

Cremation of the bodies following the Sone Chaung massacre (Supplied)

During a meeting in Naypyidaw on July 13, coup regime leader Min Aung Hlaing directed both military and pro-junta civilian leaders to step up operations in Sagaing Region and the Chin and Karenni (Kayah) states in order to retake control of longtime resistance strongholds in those areas.

The Sone Chaung village tract is a large settlement of some 1,200 households. A substantial number of its inhabitants are displaced people forced by recent military raids to flee their homes in other, nearby villages. 

According to information published  in mid-July by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of people internally displaced by conflict and natural disasters throughout Myanmar since the 2021 military coup is now close to 1.9 million. 

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