Two defence force members killed trying to protect fleeing villagers in Sagaing 

Two members of a village defence force were captured, shot and killed by the Myanmar army while guarding the community of Yar Taw in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township last week, according to local sources. 

Thein Aye, 32, and Maung Aye, 40, both from Yar Taw, were scouting the route of an approaching junta column on the morning of March 24 to protect other villagers who had gone into hiding ahead of a military raid, a member of a local defence force in Khin-U Township said.

“Both of them were gathering intel to ensure the safety of the villagers, but the military column had also sent scouts themselves,” he explained. “They ran into the junta agents and got shot and killed.”

“[Thein Aye and Maung Aye] weren’t even going to attack the troops. They just wanted to protect their villagers. They were just trying to find out where the column was heading,” the defence force member added. 

Ayadaw resident who fled when the military arrived in the area said that he saw the two men being captured near the banks of the Muu River north of the village. 

“I heard eight gunshots and then the military torched some motorcycles and smoke started to rise. That was when I realised it was the two of them who went out to scout,” the man said, adding that he did not see the soldiers kill Thein Aye and Maung Aye but later saw their bodies.

“They were shot in the neck at close-range,” he told Myanmar Now, adding that the men appeared to have been beaten in the head with rifle butts, and their legs were twisted and broken. 

Villagers cremated the men later that day, after the military column in question moved on to the village of Pyin Htaung, also in Khin-U. 

Some 30 junta troops and members of the Pyu Saw Htee militia have been occupying the village since last September.

Junta soldiers set fires in seven different villages in Khin-U between March 5 and March 16 and destroyed at least 337 houses, according to records compiled by the Khin-U People’s Defence Force. 

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