Myanmar junta forces killed three civilians in Kantbalu Township, Sagaing Region earlier this week, before burning their corpses. Regime forces also torched the makeshift shelters and food supplies of displaced people, according to locals.
Three men including two brothers encountered junta forces while fleeing a raid. They were held hostage and then killed. Their bodies were discovered earlier this week, said a local resident.
“The three men ran into a combined force of Myanmar military and Pyu Saw Htee militia coming from Kyunhla Township. The body of one of the men, a 40-year-old, was found on January 10. He had been killed and set alight on a cart. The bodies of the two other men, who were 30 and 27, were found the following day. They were burned beyond recognition,” said the resident.
Some 150 troops, including soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 368 overseen by the 10th Military Operations Command and junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militia, torched two villages in Kyunhla Township on January 6, before abducting the three men as they entered the north of Kantbalu Township.
Military regime troops torched over 40 makeshift tents housing displaced people on January 9 and 10, as well as huts and food supplies.
“Because of frequent junta raids, we stored some food and utensils in makeshift huts in the forest so that we don’t lose everything when they torch our villages. But they have torched our huts along with rice, oil, salt, clothes, and other items. So now we have nothing to eat or wear,” a displaced local told The Irrawaddy.
Over 40,900 liters of paddy and 6,137 liters of rice were torched in the junta arson attacks, according to local residents.
Over the past week, regime soldiers killed five men in Kyunhla and Kantbalu townships. They torched Kyar Takan and Htanbingon villages in the east of Kyunhla on January 6. Some 52 out of more than 400 houses were razed in Htanbingon. Kyar Takan Village has over 100 households, but it is still unclear how many houses were torched there.
Influential monk U Wasawa, from the ultranationalist Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, has been forcibly conscripting male villagers in the region into the Pyu Saw Htee. Some 44 villages in Kantbalu, as well as eight villages each in Kyunhla and Taze townships, have now been turned into Pyu Saw Htee strongholds.
With the Myanmar military suffering high casualties and unable to attract new recruits, the regime is increasingly using Pyu Saw Htee militia from Kantbalu, Kyunhla and Taze townships in its raids on villages in the region.
The growing presence of Pyu Saw Htee militia has created logistical challenges for local resistance groups.