A local source described the column behind the raid as possessing advanced weaponry and speculated that it may be a ‘special operations force’ moving through the region
A junta attack on a village in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township on June 2 left some 97 homes burned and three people dead, according to locals who spoke to Myanmar Now two days after the assault.
The civilians’ bodies were found the evening following the raid inside the charred remains of homes in Kyauk Taing village. Among them was a 60-year-old paraplegic man who residents identified as Pho Khe.
Dr Naing Aung, a parliamentarian for Wetlet ousted in last year’s coup, said that one of the other bodies belonged to a man who appeared to have suffered head injuries and bruising, and was disfigured beyond recognition.
He told Myanmar Now that villagers believed the third body, also burned, belonged to a woman named Aye Nu, whose age was not confirmed at the time of reporting.
“I think she ran into the junta column while trying to flee. They killed her and crushed her under a motorcycle, and put a pile of wood on top which they burned,” he said.
The 70-soldier military column that carried out the attack moved north from Kyauk Taing hours after the raid, reportedly heading to the village of Myin Thei. It is believed they also set fire to homes in that community, but Myanmar Now was unable to verify the extent of the damage.
Thousands of locals from seven area villages including Kyauk Taing and Myin Thei had been displaced by troop movements and assaults in the region.
The column in question departed Wetlet town on May 28 and subsequently raided the villages of U Ti Kone, Tei Taw and U Yin Thar before targeting Kyauk Taing, engaging in several clashes with local anti-junta defence forces along the eastern shore of the Muu River during the period in question.
Dr Naing Aung said that the soldiers were in possession of advanced weaponry, including artillery shells, anti-drone weapons, and sniper rifles, and appeared to be highly trained in combat.
“I think that this column is a special operations force. They’re completely different from the ones we have seen before. They used different tactics, as well,” he said.
Junta officials did not respond to calls for comment.
Monitoring group Data for Myanmar has stated that, as of April, some 11,470 homes had been burned by the military and their allies since the February 2021 coup, and that more than half of these houses were in Sagaing.
In press conferences, military council spokesperson Zaw Min Tun has repeatedly denied that the junta’s forces are responsible for the attacks, instead accusing resistance groups of setting the fires.