MANDALAY — The bodies of three Kachin men allegedly tortured and killed by Burma Army troops were returned to their families on Monday after undergoing post mortems, according to a village administrator.
Nhkum Gam Awng, 31, Maran Brang Seng, 22, and Labya Naw Hkum, 27, from Maihkawng IDP camp in Mansi Township, Kachin State, were arrested by Battalion 319 on May 25 and their bodies were found on May 28.
Maihkawng village administrator U Naw Bauk said one of the men had a bullet wound in his leg and described extensive head injuries to all three men.
“We also found knife wounds on their bodies,” he said. “We believe they were violently tortured.”
The men were arrested at Hka Pra Yang village, about three miles from the IDP camp, while they were collecting firewood, according to camp officials.
“A boy who accompanied them came back and told us that they were arrested by the soldiers of Battalion 319,” said U Brang Nu, an official of Maihkawng IDP camp.
“As the villagers told us they heard the gun shots later that day, the men’s families and friends went searching for them and found their bodies, which were buried about five miles from Hka Pra Yang village,” he added.
Police investigating the crime took the bodies to a hospital in Mansi Township on Monday morning for post mortems and returned them on Monday afternoon. Officials did not say when the post mortem results would be available.
Locals said this was the first incident of murder in their area.
“There are no other armed groups moving in this area besides the army. We are now very afraid to live here. We believe the army will take action against the ones who committed this crime,” said U Brang Nu.
The Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 502, based in Mann San village in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme Township, were accused of killing three men on April 9, following fighting in the area between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
Sources said the causalities—an ethnic Bamar from Shwebo Township in Sagaing Division and two ethnic Shan from Kyaukme—were not members of the TNLA but were in fact local villagers who often worked as drivers in the township.