Soldiers beat 72-year-old man to death during raid on Magway village

A 72-year-old man died after being badly beaten by junta forces during a raid on his village in Magway Region’s Gangaw Township last week, two local sources told Myanmar Now.

Most residents of Hnan Khar fled into nearby forests when four trucks carrying soldiers arrived on Wednesday, but Kan Htauk stayed behind in his home because he was not in good health, the sources said. 

When the soldiers left the village the next afternoon, villagers returned to find the old man covered with bruises and cuts and unable to communicate what had happened to him, said a resident who is close to his family.

“He had to stay there with all those injuries that whole night and the next morning. His knees were torn open. I think he was dragged along the ground,” the resident told Myanmar Now.

A group of residents who were hiding near the village while the soldiers were stationed there said they heard Kan Htauk screaming in pain, and that it sounded like he was being beaten near his house. 

After finding the man on Thursday, the villagers took him to a nearby forest, fearing that the soldiers might return. But they brought him back the next day to try to get him medical attention when his condition failed to improve. He died of his injuries on Saturday morning. 

“Nearly all of us fled to the forests,” the resident said. “We didn’t think the soldiers would do that to an old man who was not even in good health. We thought they mostly targeted young people.”

The old man was not able to tell the villagers what had happened to him because he was suffering too much from his injuries, the resident added. 

A photo of Kan Htauk’s body seen by Myanmar Now showed bruises on both his eyes and his left arm, and deep gashes on his knees. 

The Hnan Khar Youth Group, a local volunteer organisation, helped to cremate his body on Saturday morning.

During the raid, soldiers looted about 20 houses in the village, another local said. “They took all the gold, money, TVs and other valuable things,” he said.

The sources said the raid was a response to a landmine attack by local resistance forces against 40 army trucks passing along the Gangaw-Kalay highway on August 18, in which the military suffered heavy casualties. 

A chapter of the People’s Defence Force in Yaw, an area covering Gangaw, Htilin and Saw townships, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Myanmar Now was unable to independently confirm the details.  

Neither a military spokesperson nor officials from Gangaw police station answered calls seeking comments on the raid at Hnan Khar. 

In late May, regime forces shot three people dead and set houses on fire during raids on other villages in Gangaw. The raids were triggered by bomb attacks against military trucks. 

Tens of thousands of residents in about a dozen villages in Gangaw fled their homes the following month amid a build-up of troops in the area. Soldiers stationed in a factory near Hnan Khar at the time also looted the houses of those who had fled.

At least 1,013 civilians have been killed by the junta since the coup, while over 7,400 have been arrested, according to a recent tally from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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