Members of a search and rescue team that entered the village of Hnan Khar in Magway Region’s Gangaw Township on Sunday said they discovered the bodies of nine people, including two children, killed by regime forces over the weekend.
The discovery comes days after the military used three helicopters to attack the village on Friday. Around 150 soldiers occupied the village until early Sunday.
“We found the bodies at the edge of the village,” the leader of the search and rescue team, who asked not to be named, told Myanmar Now on Monday.
Only two of the victims were members of a local People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighting the regime, he said. The rest were local villagers.
Most of those killed were from neighbouring villages, he added. Six were from Mwele, located just south of Hnan Khar, one was from Zahaw, another village in the area, and two were from Hnan Khar.
On Sunday, the Gangaw PDF released a statement saying that two of the victims were under the age of 18. The others ranged in age from 18 to their late forties, the group said.
The two Hnan Khar victims were identified as Tin Htay, 40, and Kyaw Htay, 45. Both had apparently been executed with their hands tied behind their backs, according to the leader of the search and rescue team.
“They shot them in the back of their heads. They were just regular cowherds. I heard they were taken by the military while transporting hay,” he said.
The wounds on the other seven bodies suggested that they had been shot at close range after being incapacitated while trying to flee.
The leader of the search and rescue team, who witnessed the raid on Friday, said that he saw regime troops hunt down several people immediately after entering the village.
“As soon as they got out of the helicopters, some soldiers started chasing people around,” he said. “They may have been just injured at first, but were later shot in the head.”
Seven of the nine bodies that were found had bullet wounds in their heads, he added.
Residents of Hnan Khar said that the troops who had occupied the village over the weekend torched three buildings, including a storehouse of supplies used by people displaced by the conflict, before leaving on Sunday.
They also took three men in their 20s who had been captured during the raid on Friday with them, they added.
According to the Gangaw People’s Administration Team, around 20m kyat ($11,000) worth of food supplies, including 100 bags of rice, oil and dried fish, were destroyed in the fires set by the soldiers.
The administration team, which was formed last month to coordinate basic services in a region where most government workers have either resigned or defected to the resistance, has also been monitoring military activity in the region.
A spokesperson for the team said that further military attacks were expected following reports that at least 17 soldiers and members of the pro-regime Pyu Saw Htee militia had been killed in an ambush on Sunday.
“The military column was ambushed at around 2pm yesterday,” the spokesperson, Nway Oo, told Myanmar Now on Monday, adding that details of the attack had not yet been confirmed.
The ambush, which was carried out using explosives, reportedly took place as the regime forces were marching from Hnan Khar to the village of Myinthar, some 16km away.
According to Nway Oo, a convoy of around 50 military vehicles was moving towards the area from Pale Township in Sagaing Region on Monday.
Myanmar Now was unable to confirm this information at the time of reporting. Attempts to reach a regime spokesperson for comment have also been unsuccessful.