Myanmar junta troops tell civilians to run, then shoot them in the back

Trigger warning: This story includes disturbing photos

At least six people were shot dead in Sagaing Region’s Myinmu Township on Monday after junta forces told around 30 villagers to run away and then opened fire on them.

The incident occurred on Monday afternoon at the Myat Saw Nyi Naung monastery in Kan Phyar, a village located about 15km northeast of the town of Myinmu, according to local sources.

It started after soldiers belonging to a column of around 80 troops ordered displaced civilians staying at the monastery to take them to the nearby village of Pe Ku on their motorcycles, the sources said.

When the villagers refused, the soldiers began searching their motorcycles. They then produced a gun which they claimed to have found hidden under the seat of one of the bikes.

The soldiers asked who owned the vehicle, and when the villagers said they didn’t know, the junta troops started setting fire to all of them, destroying a total of around 50 in all.

After that, they separated around 30 male members of the crowd from the others and told them to start running, according to survivors of the incident.

“They gave us 10 seconds to start running. And when we did, they started firing at us,” said a teenage boy who was wounded but did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

According to the boy, around 20 soldiers shot at the fleeing villagers as some high-ranking officers watched without intervening. 

“I only survived by keeping my head down,” he added.

Junta troops set fire to dozens of motorcycles in Kan Phyar on June 6 (Supplied)

Another villager who survived the attack said that four people were killed instantly before they could even start running. 

“They made us start running from near the burned motorcycles. Four were killed right there as soon as the soldiers opened fire,” he said.

An information officer for the Myinmu Township People’s Defence Force told Myanmar Now that the group tried to rescue two injured villagers, but lost one who bled to death before he could receive treatment for his wounds.

“We couldn’t take them out on motorcycles, so we had to disguise ourselves as civilians and go into the village with an oxcart,” he said.

According to some reports, as many as 11 people were killed. However, Myanmar Now was only able to independently confirm the deaths of six boys and men aged from 16 to 50.

The dead victims all had bullet wounds to their backs, chests and heads, and were cremated on Tuesday, according to locals.

The victims whose deaths we were able to confirm were identified as Hla Soe and Myint Oo, both aged 50; Rupa and Aye Min Naing, both in their 30s; Nay Zar Aung, of indeterminate age; and Paing Paing, a 16-year-old boy with mental disabilities.

Soldiers also burned a number of structures at the Myat Saw Nyi Naung monastery in Kan Phyar on June 6 (Supplied)

Local residents said that the regime forces also set fire to a number of religious structures at the monastery, destroying nearly 500 sacks of rice that had been stored there.

“People in the village thought that the monastery would be the safest place to keep their rice, because they didn’t think the military would attack a monastery. But now they’ve lost everything,” said one villager who did not want to be named.

The body of a civilian killed by regime forces in Kan Phyar on June 6

On Saturday, the same military column that killed civilians in Kan Phyar torched a camp housing around 100 internally displaced persons near the village of Kan Taw in eastern Myinmu Township, local sources reported.

Myanmar’s military junta routinely denies targeting civilians in its operations against anti-regime forces. However, there have been widespread and credible reports of killings being carried out on an almost daily basis.

Earlier this week, resistance forces in Sagaing’s Kani Township said they discovered the bodies of six local civilians who had been killed by regime troops.

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