Two eight-year-old ethnic Pa-O boys were killed on Sunday in Si Sai Township, southern Shan State when a member of the local militia force, the Pa-O National Army (PNA), shot them allegedly on mistaken identity.
Phra Khun Sein, village leader of Lon Pho Village where the incident took place, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that a member of the PNA shot the boys and that the organization had already paid compensation to their families.
“He drank alcohol first. Then he went to the monastery when he was drunk. He went crazy. He says he [thought he] saw his enemies coming so he shot two boys who were asleep in their room,” said Phra Khun Sein.
A Buddhist monk from the monastery tried to stop the gunman, telling him that there are no enemies in the monastery, he added.
The two boys were studying at the monastery, and both were shot on the head. The funeral is being held on Wednesday, according to Phra Khun Sein.
Si Sai Township is located in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone in southern Shan State and the PNA control the area which is under the command of the Myanmar military.
Khun Si Thu, a rights activist from Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, said that his organization, Kaung Yaw Youth, plan to issue a statement condemning the killing.
The abbot of the monastery where they killings took place had previously declared a village-wide ban on drinking alcohol. However, the gunman got drunk and he went to make a problem for the abbot, according to Khun Si Thu.
The PNA paid a total of 16 million kyats in compensation to the victims’ families, according to Khun Si Thu and confirmed by Phra Khun Sein.
The incident has been officially declared an accident but the compensation agreement documents have been widely shared on social media by groups condemning the murders, including by Pa’O Youths Voice, an online media group which focuses on news from the Pa-O community.
On the group’s Facebook page, they questioned how it could have been an accident if the killer came to the monastery to kill the boys.
When The Irrawaddy called Col. Khun Zaw Pyan, an information officer for the PNA, for his comments on the incident, he did not answer the phone. The PNA previously served as the armed wing of the Pa-O National Organization (PNO), but since the armed group agreed to a ceasefire with the Myanmar military regime in 1991, they have been serving as a local militia acting as a security force in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone. The PNA is led by U Aung Kham Hti, the patron and former chairman of the PNO.