Another seven villagers are still missing following the attacks last week
Local resistance fighters discovered the bodies of four civilians in a rural area of Sagaing’s Mingin Township last week after junta soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee militiamen burned down two nearby villages.
Three of the bodies, one of which had been burned to ashes, were discovered by a stream in Ngar Nandar village, which is close to the neighbouring villages of Mauk Tet and Mote Thar.
The junta’s forces torched most of the 300 houses in Mote Thar and Mauk Tet early on Thursday morning, sparing only around 80 homes that belonged to supporters of the military, a local woman said.
Around 1,000 people have been displaced from the villages and are in need of food supplies, she added.
The raids came a day after local People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters killed three during an attack on a military outpost in nearby Sana Pyin village. The PDF fighters seized an MA-2 light machine gun and a carbine rifle in the attack.
The four villagers killed by the junta’s forces were identified as Naing Soe Lin, a 21-year-old vegetable seller, as well as three volunteer village guards named Kaung Min San, 18, Than Min Soe, 24, and Naing Zaw, 28.
Naing Soe Lin’s body was found with a bullet hole in the forehead near Mote Thar, which is where he lived.
His wife has gone missing and his house has been burned to the ground, said the local woman, who is a member of the anti-junta People’s Administration Team for Mingin Township.
“We don’t know if Naing Soe Lin’s wife was killed in the fire or abducted by the junta’s forces,” said a 28-year-old villager from Mote Thar.
The other three bodies were found together. Than Min Soe’s body had been burned on a haystack, while the bodies of Kaung Min San and Naing Zaw were found with bullet wounds in their eyes.
Local defence force members made the discovery when they travelled to Mote Thar and Mauk Tet to assess the damage from the fires on Thursday evening.
Photos showed that one of the guards had a kyat-coin wide bullet on his right eye. The other person was seen to have lost all his teeth and his right eye was muddled with blood.
Than Min Soe, who villagers believed was burned to death, leaves behind a four-year-old son. Naing Zaw leaves behind a three-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.
The villages of Mote Thar and Mauk Tet that were torched
Mote Thar and Mauk Tet were torched by a unit of around 200 soldiers who have been based in the nearby villages of Taung Phyu and Pan Set along with Pyu Saw Htee members.
Seven villagers, including Naing Soe Lin’s wife, are still missing after the attacks.
The Mingin People’s Administration Team believes the soldiers had help from informants with local knowledge, since they knew which houses belonged to people with military personnel in their families.
Junta information officers did not answer calls seeking comment on the arson attacks and the killings.
Last last month soldiers set fires in three other villages in Mingin–Bin, Western Bin and Onnabote– and used 37 civilians as human shields, including elderly people, breastfeeding mothers and children.
In July last year junta forces in Mingin captured 57 PDF fighters at once with the help of Pyu Saw Htee members.