Three dead men were discovered with signs of torture in northern Kalay Township, Sagaing Region, on Thursday morning after the military withdrew from the area, according to locals.
Two of the men were identified as civilians and the third was reportedly a member of the local defence forces. All of the victims—who were found in Pyin Taw-U village some 12 miles north of Kalay and two miles east of the Chin State border—were in their 30s.
Junta forces stationed themselves in Pyin Taw-U on Monday evening following fierce battles in the area, and left Thursday morning. Local resistance forces found the three bodies after entering the village after the soldiers withdrew.
A battalion commander in Brigade 4 of the Chin National Defence Force-Upper Chindwin said that he believed that the military had captured and executed the victims.
“One of the bodies was found in a garden and the other two were found in an alley, on the concrete. The bodies in the alley were three feet apart,” said the battalion commander, who asked to maintain his anonymity.
“Judging from the injuries found on the bodies, we believe they were captured alive, interrogated, beaten and tortured before they were ultimately executed,” he said.
The military council has not released a statement regarding the attack on Kalay Township, and Myanmar Now has yet to determine the motive of the killing.
Pyin Taw-U, a village of more than 100 households on the highway connecting Kalay with Yarzagyo Dam and Tamu, was known as a local commercial hub before post-coup violence enveloped the region.
However, assaults by junta forces have forced many of the residents to flee their homes. Locals claim that although the military has left the area, displaced residents are mostly unwilling to resettle in the village due to lingering threats to their security.
Last week, a junta column of more than 100 soldiers raided northern Kalay Township, resulting in serious fighting near Pyin Taw-U lasting several days. The military’s Kalay-based Infantry Battalion 228 fired heavy artillery and launched airstrikes targeting the combat site, forcing local defence forces to retreat from the village on Monday evening.
The Chinland Defence Force of Kalay, Kabaw, and Gangaw (CDF KKG) also released images and footage showing the destruction of several buildings in Pyin Taw-U village, including a church, by military aircraft.
The fighting in northern Kalay Township resulted in the deaths of at least seven junta soldiers, and resistance fighters were able to seize cartridges, bullets, and uniforms, according to a CDF KKG statement released on Tuesday.
Myanmar Now has yet to independently confirm the number of junta casualties.
Junta forces have repeatedly assaulted southern Kalay Township since the February 2021 military coup, but their attacks on the northern part of the township near Pyin Taw-U have begun only recently.
As of April 6, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated the number of internally displaced persons at nearly 1.8 million throughout Myanmar, and stated that 1.4 million had been displaced by conflict and insecurity arising after the February 2021 coup.