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Two civilian women killed in apparent retaliation for Lily Naing Kyaw’s assassination

Two residents of Htantapin Township, Yangon, were shot dead on Monday evening and later found to be related to a man accused of involvement in a pro-junta celebrity’s assassination.

Kaung Zarni Hein, 23, also known as La Pyae; and Kyaw Thura, 30, also known as E.T., who are both reportedly members of a local urban guerrilla group called Special Task Force (STF), were arrested by the military for the assassination of Lily Naing Kyaw, a pro-junta singer and propagandist. 

The military council issued a statement, accompanied by photos of the two youths, claiming that they were the perpetrators of Lily Naing Kyaw’s assassination.

Thae Marlar Win, 42, and Saung Thazin Oo, 24, who were killed in their home in Rakhine Yoe Gyi village, Htantapin Township, were identified as the mother and the sister of Kaung Zarni Hein.

The two women ran a nursery school and resided in Rakhine Yoe Gyi village. Thae Marlar Win is survived by a teenage daughter and son, according to a member of the village’s social welfare group.

“The two of them were lying dead in a big pool of blood. They ran a private nursery school. Their neighbourhood doesn’t have a lot of people,” the social worker said.

According to pro-junta social media pages, four gunmen shot the two women from a taxi.

The social worker added that the family’s two children happened to avoid the attack, and that the bodies of the two victims, whose time of death on Monday was determined to be close to 6:45pm, were brought to the Hlaingtharyar Hospital.

He was not able to explain why the killing happened, saying only that junta soldiers and police officers had already arrived on the scene when the social welfare groups got there.

“We don’t know what actually happened, to be honest. Even the neighbours in the same street don’t know about the two women who were killed,” he said.

Myanmar Now also has yet to confirm independently that the women were relatives of Kaung Zarni Hein, who is currently in junta custody. Moreover, Myanmar Now has not been able to confirm that the two detainees are members of the STF.

One of the victims under examination.

Lily Naing Kyaw was a pro-junta, self-proclaimed “nationalist” singer. She was shot in an attack on May 30 and died at the hospital the next week. 

The shooting took place less than four days after the assassination of another prominent supporter of the military from Yangon, Tint Lwin, an ultranationalist public figure who led parades honouring the military.

Pro-junta social media pages and messaging channels have relentlessly urged supporters of the military to “avenge” Lily Kyaw Naing’s death, and have accused the anti-junta People’s Defence Forces (PDF) of shooting the two women dead.

Moe Gyo, supervisor of Yangon Region Military Command for the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG), said they lacked detailed information on the Htantapin incident, but added that armed conflict in the area had only started after the military staged the 2021 coup.

“The primary culprit here is Min Aung Hlaing. It only got this bad because they started shooting protesters. Everyone knows that this is not a good thing,” Moe Gyo said.

Family members of other anti-junta activists have been assassinated in a similar fashion in 2022. The victims included the 74-year-old grandfather of Hein Htet–an actor who became a PDF member–who was murdered in Mingaladon Township, Yangon; and both parents of 17-year-old San Min Paing, a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), who were also shot dead.

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