Junta troops killed at least 18 civilians and People’s Defense Force (PDF) members in Sagaing Region’s Monywa Township during their latest raid in the area, said locals.
Eighteen bodies were found after junta soldiers raided Htan Lay Pin Village on Sunday. Eight of those killed were resistance fighters: four were killed in action while four others were tortured to death and their bodies mutilated. Ten civilians were shot dead, a resistance fighter told The Irrawaddy.
“Photos published by a junta media outlet show [resistance fighters] shot and lying on the ground. But what we saw were their dismembered bodies. One resistance fighter appeared to be badly tortured. His arms had been cut into pieces and he had been disemboweled and decapitated,” he said.
Dead bodies were scattered across the village, and some slain civilians bore signs of torture, according to witnesses who helped gather the bodies. Residents fled their homes to escape the violence.
Some 200 junta soldiers from units based in Monywa have been joining with junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militias to raid villages along the Monywa-Amyint Lan road since November 3. They arrived in Htan Lay Pin on Sunday where they clashed with local resistance fighters.
Resistance bases were exposed during the raid and weapons and ammunition were seized. Resistance fighters were killed after reportedly running out of ammunition.
“They were conducting military operations,” a member of a local PDF in Monywa Township said of the junta raiders.
“There are many local PDF groups here. Some PDF bases were seized as [junta forces] entered the village.”
The raid had been triggered by information leaks, he added.
“It appears that they had received information about PDF presence in certain villages in this area. So, it was part of their mission to raid [Htan Lay Pin].”
Villagers and resistance fighters returned to Htan Lay Pin at noon on Monday after junta troops had moved to another village. However, they fled later the same day after junta soldiers were again spotted near the village.
Some villagers are still missing and feared dead while the bodies of those discovered are so badly mutilated that they cannot be identified.
Junta troops torched houses in at least three villages during the raid. More than 3,000 people from some 10 villages were forced to flee and still can’t return to their homes.
Pro-junta Telegram channels carried photos of the eight dead PDF fighters along with weapons seized from them near Htan Lay Pin Village.