Fourteen Kantbalu Township men in Sagaing Region were tortured and killed by Myanmar junta troops this month, according to residents.
On November 3 troops from Koetaungboet village, where Light Infantry Battalions 363 and 377 are based, entered Zeekanar, Shaw Phyu Kone and Hnaw Kone villages and seized residents.
Most villages had already fled their homes and were living in tents in a nearby forest.
Around 60 troops raided the forest on November 3 and seized three Zeekanar villagers and 15 Shaw Phyu Kone villagers and took them to Koetaungboet, according to Kantbalu People’s Defense Force.
Koetaungboet is a large village tract in the north of Kantbalu Township that is well-defended with junta bunkers around a small barracks.
On November 3, the troops released two Zeekanar villagers and on November 5 Shaw Phyu Kone villager U Win Myint and his son were freed.
They returned home deaf and with other injuries from junta torture.
“Koetaungboet villagers told us that the troops had killed other villagers. My nephew and his son were among those killed,” said Zaw Wai Hlaing, 50, of Shaw Phyu Kone, who is sheltering in the forest.
His nephew Zaw Zaw, 35, and son Maung Win Thu, 15, and Ko Soe Win, 27, U Kyaw Myint Tun, 35, Ko Soe San, 18, U Moe Win Tun, 30, U Kyaw Soe, 35, U Myint Oo, 53, U Zaw Min Soe, 35, U Nga Cho, 34, U Aung Soe, 33, U Nyi Nyi, 30, Ko Myo Aung, 25, and U Tun Oo, 35, were among those killed.
“After committing a massacre on November 5, they slaughtered the remaining villagers and burned their bodies, according to Koetaungboet villagers. We saw smoke above the village,” U Maung Latt of the Koetaungboet people’s administration committee.
“They were all civilians. The troops said U Tun Oo was a resistance member but he just organized a village security team to protect us from thieves and bandits,” U Zaw Wai Hlaing said.
On November 6 a junta shell hit U Phoe Thar’s house in Zeekanar. He was one of the few remaining villagers because some of his family were infirm.
The shell killed a child and a 60-year-old woman and two others were injured.
U Nay Zin Latt, the National League for Democracy MP for Kantbalu Township, confirmed the 14 deaths.
There had been no clashes with resistance groups in the area, he told The Irrawaddy.
“We can understand the killing of combatants but these people are just civilians,” he said.
Kantbalu has around 300 villages. At least 30,000 residents have fled their homes and more than 1,500 houses in 30 villages have been burned down by junta forces, according to U Nay Zin Latt.