Myanmar military kills seven hostages captured in upper Sagaing region, releases five

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Junta forces have executed seven of the 16 civilian hostages that they captured on May 30 in Kawlin Township, upper Sagaing Region, local news sources reported this week.

A junta column initially took the civilian villagers hostage while conducting raids east of the town of Kawlin between May 28 and June 4.

The bodies of the seven victims were found on a hill one mile from Moke Wa village, Kawlin Township, on Monday, after the column withdrew to the military base in Koe Taung Boet village, Kanbalu Township.

Five of the bodies were found together, and two others were found nearby, according to a local woman closely connected to the Kawlin District PDF, who cited eyewitnesses.

“Some of their hands were tied and their throats were cut. The bodies had already begun to decompose, since we found them three days after they were killed. I didn’t want to look but we had to in order to identify them,” she said.

The military’s precise motives for executing the hostages are still unknown. The victims were regular civilians from Moke Wa, between 32 and 60 years old.

They were identified by name as Win Bo; San Win; Win Naing; Zaw Min; Zaw Oo; Myo Min Tun; and San Lin, a 48-year-old member of the people’s administration of Hpet Khar Kone village, Kawlin Township.

“Since six people from the same village were killed, the entire village is busy with funerals. The victims weren’t even armed. They took defenceless civilians and executed them,” the woman said.

The military reportedly released five of the 16 hostages near Koe Taung Boet, but the whereabouts and status of the remaining four are currently unknown.

According to a member of the Kawlin District PDF, there were several skirmishes in the area during the military’s recent raids. A clash near Taung Ba Lu village on June 4 was the most intense.

Allied forces of Kawlin District PDF’s Battalion 1 and local defence teams intercepted a junta column after it left Ou Min Kone village, Kawlin Township, and engaged them in combat for most of the day.

The military junta air force carried out an airstrike that evening, with junta forces stationed in Wuntho firing heavy artillery at the same time, before the soldiers withdrew to their base in Koe Taung Boet.

While no one was injured in the air and artillery strikes on Taung Ba Lu and Chaung Kway villages, several houses and school buildings sustained major damage and 10 head of cattle were killed.

According to the Kawlin District PDF member, the number of junta troops killed during the battles might have been in the dozens, but they only found two dead soldiers the following morning.

“One of the bodies was left unburied. I think they left it because they weren’t able to keep moving it along,” the PDF member said.

A Kawlin District PDF commander, who had been sent to the area by the Kachin Independence Army, as well as eight other PDF combatants, were killed by junta forces in eastern Kawlin Township in late April.

A house destroyed by a military airstrike, and the missile used in the attack (Supplied)

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