Myanmar military’s bullets killed Pinlaung massacre victims, say anti-regime groups

Bullets used to kill 29 civilians in southern Shan State’s Pinlaung Township last week were manufactured by Myanmar’s military, regime opponents said in a statement on Thursday.

The claim, which comes amid efforts by the junta to blame resistance forces for the March 11 massacre, was made at a press conference jointly held by the shadow National Unity Government (NUG), the Karenni State Consultative Council (KSCC), and the Pa-O National Federal Council.

The three groups said the bullets were discovered during an investigation carried out on Monday after the victims—three of whom were Buddhist monks—were found dead at a monastery in the village of Nanneint following a junta raid.

According to Bo Bo, the spokesperson for the Karenni People’s Police Force, the bullets were found in the bodies of the victims, as well as near where they were killed.

“We could tell they were manufactured by the military from the Burmese letters written on them,” he said, referring to the 5.56mm bullet shells discovered at the scene of the mass killing.

Evidence from the Nanneint village massacre

Dr. Ye Zaw, an NUG health official who conducted autopsies on the victims’ bodies, also confirmed reports that the victims had been tortured before being executed.

He said the bodies were found to have had broken limbs, bruises from being beaten with blunt items, and stab wounds. He added that other evidence suggested they were ultimately killed in an equally brutal manner.

“Deep bullet holes in the walls of the monastery point to the incontrovertible fact that they were shot at a very close range,” he said at the press conference.

Although pro-regime groups initially hailed the incident on social media as “teaching a lesson” to resistance forces active in the area, the junta itself has since portrayed it as the work of groups opposed to its rule.

In a statement, the regime’s spokesperson, Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun, said the military was merely “providing security” in Nanneint when it came under attack from the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and other anti-junta groups. 

“When the terrorist groups violently opened fire… some villagers were killed and injured,” he said, without offering evidence of his claims.

The KNDF, which was the first group to reveal the killings in photos posted online a day after the incident, has denied the junta’s accusations.

There has also been an attempt by groups close to the regime to depict the massacre as being racially motivated, as most of its victims were ethnic Pa-O.

On Tuesday, the Pa-O National Organisation (PNO), a group known to have collaborated with the military council, released a statement condemning the KNDF’s actions in the Pa-O region, including its alleged role in the Nanneint incident. A rally held in Taunggyi the following day further amplified this message.

Last week, just days before the attack on Nanneint, junta chief Min Aung Hlaing travelled to the Pa-O region to personally meet with PNO leader Aung Hkam Hti.

Aung San Myint, the chair of the KSCC, said it was clear the military was spreading false claims to cause racial conflict. He called on the public to see through the military’s tactics, and also urged the international community to take serious action against the coup regime.

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