Myanmar Junta Troops Massacre 23 Civilians Including Monks in Shan State: Resistance

By The Irrawaddy 13 March 2023

Myanmar junta troops massacred 23 civilians including a female resident and three Buddhist monks during a raid on Nam Name Village in Pinlaung Township, southern Shan State on Saturday, according to resistance groups.

The bodies of residents, including monks, who were shot dead by regime forces at Nan Name Village’s monastery on Saturday. / KNDF

At 5 a.m. on Saturday, a large number of regime forces raided the village while a military unit from a hill nearby shelled it with heavy explosives.

In the morning, a fierce clash broke out in the village when several People’s Defense Force groups (PDFs) and Karen Nationalities Defense Force fighters from Pinlaung, Pekon, Mobye and nearby Naypyitaw and Kayah State attacked regime forces that were torching houses, said the Karenni Revolution (KRU), which joined the firefight.

During the clash, a large amount of ammunition was seized from the regime forces. Many junta troops are believed to have been killed and injured, the KRU said.

In the clash, several resistance forces including a KRU fighter suffered serious injuries. Resistance forces were forced to leave the village when junta aircraft attacked in the evening.

On Sunday morning, the combined resistance forces found the dead bodies of 23 civilians including three Buddhist monks who had been shot to death in the village’s monastery, which regime forces temporarily occupied, a representative of the KRU who saw the bodies told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Video and photos recorded by the resistance groups show several bodies including those of three monks. Most of them had been shot in the head. The bodies were found behind the monastery building.

The bodies of residents, including monks, who were shot dead by regime forces at Nan Name Village’s monastery on Saturday. / KNDF

Before the resistance groups issued their statement and photo evidence, pro-regime Telegram channel Ko Thet shared photos of some of the slain people, labeling them as Karenni PDF forces who were killed by military troops in Nam Name. The time on the pictures show they were taken at around 9 a.m. on Saturday. Pools of fresh blood can be seen oozing from the victims.

In the photos shared by the pro-junta channel, homemade air-guns are placed on the bodies of the victims.

The bodies of residents, including monks, who were shot dead by regime forces at Nan Name Village’s monastery on Saturday. / KNDF

Junta spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun said via the military-owned Myawaddy Television Channel on Monday that clashes occurred in Nam Name Village as “terrorist groups”, which he identified as the PDF, Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), ambushed military troops and allied Pa-O National Army (PNA) fighters.

He said there were some casualties among villagers due to random shooting by the “terrorist groups”. However, the junta  spokesman did not specifically comment on the massacre of the 23 residents including the three monks.

Instead, he insisted the “terrorist groups”, referring to the resistance forces, invaded the area aiming to destroy the stability and development of the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone (SAZ).

Pinlaung Township is part of the Pa-O SAZ, which is governed by the Pa-O National Organization (PNO), the political wing of the pro-junta PNA.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing visited his ally, PNO leader U Aung Kham Hti, on March 7 at his home in Kyauk Ta Lone Gyi Town in the Pa-O SAZ, according to regime-controlled media. It is not known what the two men discussed.

However, local observers believed the regime boss would have been pushing U Aung Kham Hti  to help defend the SAZ. The area is strategically important, as it stands between Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw and resistance groups from Kayah and Karen states.

On the day of Min Aung Hlaing’s visit, the PNA released a statement calling on young ethnic Pa-O people to help fight the “invaders”.

Following the Nan Name massacre, local resistance group the Pa-Oh National Defense Force (Kham Koung), which joined the resistance attacks at Nam Name, claimed  in a statement on Sunday that the junta troops had committed war crimes and crime against humanity by massacring war refugees sheltering at Nam Name’s monastery.

Clashes have been occurring in Pinlaung Township since Feb. 24 when the KA, KNDF and local resistance groups launched an attack on a junta outpost in Saung Pyaung.