Village defence team member beheaded, another man killed in Khin-U Township

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Regime troops killed two young men in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township on Monday, including one who was beheaded after being shot and captured while scouting for a local defence team.

The bodies of the victims were discovered in Than Po, a village located less than 10km southeast of the town of Khin-U, when the junta soldiers left the area soon after the killings, according to the leader of the village’s defence team.

“He was caught tracking the army column as it was cutting through the woods to avoid our minefields,” said the defence team leader, who identified himself by the code name G-1.

The victims were identified as Thet Naing Phyo, 25, and Kyaw Ye, 20. The two men were together at the time of their capture, but Kyaw Ye was not a member of the defence team, according to G-1.

Thet Naing Phyo’s decapitated body was discovered about 30m away from his head, which was found hanging from a tree, said G-1, who added that the body also had a number of gunshot wounds.

Kyaw Ye, the civilian victim, appeared to have been shot in the head at close range, he said. Both bodies were cremated at around 3pm on Monday.

The body of Kyaw Ye, who was killed by junta troops in the village of Than Po on March 13 (Supplied)

The junta column responsible for the killings was reportedly the same one that has been raiding villages along the borders of Khin-U, Ye-U and Kanbalu townships since early last week.

On March 6, the 100-strong army column shot and killed an eight-year-old girl when it opened fire on a group of displaced villagers hiding in a forested area near Mone Hla, a village about 20km northeast of the town of Khin-U.

Before arriving in Than Po on Monday, the column was attacked with explosives just outside of Khin-U, triggering a clash that lasted about half an hour, sources there said.

According to a resident of Than Po, after killing Thet Naing Phyo and Kyaw Ye, the soldiers took their phones and used them to call friends and relatives of the deceased men.

“They called [Kyaw Ye’s cousin] and asked her if she was happy to see him like that. Then they kept taunting her, saying that they were celebrating his death,” he said.

The body and head of Thet Naing Phyo, a member of a village defence team who was killed by junta troops on March 13 (Supplied)

The villager noted that soldiers seem to be trying to terrorise not only resistance forces but also local civilians by beheading their victims. But he added that these efforts have not had the intended effect.

“Cutting off people’s heads and hanging them up like that is supposed to demean the resistance fighters and terrify us. But it only makes us and the youths who protect us hate them even more,” he said.

According to the same Than Po villager, the army column also took two hostages when it left the village—a man in his late 20s and another in his 60s. While the older man has since been released, the younger one is still being held, he said.

Than Po, once a village of more than 200 households, is now largely in ruins after coming under repeated attack by regime forces. Just a few kilometres away is Ma Gyi Tone—a village controlled by the pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militia.

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