Military tortures, kills six civilians including three teenagers in Sagaing Region

A column of some 180 troops, formed in Monywa, has captured, robbed, tortured and killed local villagers while carrying out assaults in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi, Pale and Yinmabin townships

Locals discovered the bodies of six people, including three minors, killed by junta soldiers in Sagaing Region’s Yinmabin Township on Monday. 

The bodies were found in Thea Kone village, 18 miles west of Yinmabin. The victims were identified as Maung Lin, 40, Zaw Maung, 35, Zaw Thu, 30, and Than Htike Aung, Khant Nay Naing and Thant Zin Oo, all aged 16. 

Khant Nay Naing and Thant Zin Oo were enrolled in grade 11 of the secondary school programme run by the publicly mandated, shadow National Unity Government (NUG).

“They used knives to cut flesh off their backs and used rubber tubing to torture them. Their bodies were all riddled with injuries from torture,” said a member of the team tasked with retrieving the bodies.

Myanmar Now made several attempts to reach Sai Naing Naing Kyaw, a spokesperson for the military council in Sagaing Region, but did not receive a response. 

Posts on pro-junta propaganda social media channels said that the military had killed five members  of the People’s Defence Forces (PDF)—resistance groups operating as the armed wing of the NUG—after catching them setting explosives near Thea Kone village. The posts also claimed soldiers had captured handmade explosive devices and ammunition.

Villagers fled Thea Kone when the advancing junta column first approached the village. As the villagers returned, believing the soldiers had gone, the military took more than 30 of them captive. 

According to local sources, the military confined some of the captives in the village’s monastery compound, while holding others in separate houses and buildings after blindfolding them. 

“They took money and jewellery from the women. They took around 40 lakh [US $1,900] from the villagers. They also ransacked the houses,” one local man said.

The column released the women as it was leaving the village, he added. 

“I heard that they weren’t going to kill the women, and that some men the soldiers were planning to execute tried to escape. Some of them were chased down and shot when they tried to run,” said Phoe Thar, an officer of Yinmabin District PDF Battalion 20.

“They burned their victims’ arms with lit cigarettes. We’re still not able to get a clear statement out of the survivors. They’re crying and only able to say that they were tortured,” Phoe Thar said.

Local resistance groups attacked the junta column on Sunday morning when it crossed the Myauk Yamar Creek, advancing north from Pale Township into Yinmabin Township. One resistance fighter was killed and three were injured in the ensuing battles.

“Our troops ultimately had to withdraw due to the difference in firepower. Three of our fighters were injured and one was killed. He was beheaded,” an activist based in Yinmabin Township said.

The head of the local resistance group member was found near the battlefield on Monday, according to local sources.

The junta column set up a temporary base in Yin Paung Taing village after leaving Thea Kone, then continued to advance east towards Lar Boet village on Tuesday morning, carrying out assaults along the way, according to locals.

The junta column, which consists of some 180 soldiers, originally came from the military’s northwestern command headquarters in Monywa. It has been carrying out offensive operations in Salingyi, Pale, and Yinmabin townships, all part of Yinmabin District, which is located opposite Monywa on the west bank of the Chindwin River.

Soldiers in the same column reportedly shot and killed a middle-aged man with a hearing impairment in Salingyi Township.

“They’re looting everything they come across on the Pale-Gangaw road, from oil and rice to gold, silver, fans and water pumps,” said Zaw Htet, an official serving in the NUG’s local administration in Pale Township. 

He added that while the junta column was in Pale Township’s Kan Gyi village, the soldiers captured at least four civilians, killing one of them and taking the rest with them as hostages when they left. 

The killing of the six civilians in Thea Kone echoes a similar incident that occurred in late September in Pale Township’s Nyaung Kone village, in which junta scouts captured three locals before torturing and beheading them.

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