Soldiers torture and murder man who tried to help villagers flee junta attack

A young man who was captured by junta soldiers while trying to help others flee a raid on his village in Sagaing Region’s Budalin Township on Tuesday was tortured to death, according to resistance sources.

Kyaw Phyo, 29, was among three people found dead in the village of Shwe Taung following the unprovoked attack, an officer of the Budalin People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now.

“He was helping other villagers get out when he was captured, tortured, and killed. His face was badly bruised and there were bullet wounds in his thigh and in his chest,” the PDF officer said.

According to residents of the village, a junta column of around 70 soldiers entered Shwe Taung early Tuesday morning and immediately started setting fire to houses. 

Two elderly men who were unable to escape were later found dead inside their homes.

“They just started burning down our village for no reason at all. Those two old men were trapped because they couldn’t run as the military torched their houses,” said a villager who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The two victims were identified as Chit Phyo, 75, and San Phe, who was believed to be around 100 years old.

Fifteen of the 50 or so houses in the village, which is located about 25km northeast of the town of Budalin, were reportedly destroyed by fire in the attack.

The assault, which also involved light and heavy weapons fire, ended when the junta troops left the village to return to Budalin later the same day.

There have been numerous reports of elderly or disabled villagers being burned alive in arson attacks carried out by the military in areas where it has faced strong resistance to its rule.

Indiscriminate shelling and deliberate murder have also claimed the lives of many civilians caught in the conflict, which shows no signs of abating.

Far from weakening support for the resistance, the junta’s targeting of civilians has only strengthened people’s determination to force the regime from power, according to the Budalin PDF officer.

“These arson attacks and raids are the main reason we now have more troops than ever. Our resolve has also become clearer. But we need the public’s full support to end this fight as quickly as possible,” he said.

In its latest statement on the situation in Myanmar, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that some 34,000 civilian properties have been damaged or destroyed by fire since the military seized power in February 2021.

At least 2,692 people have been killed by the regime during the same period, according to the latest data compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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