Soldiers abduct 19 villagers in southern Shan ‘to use as human shields’
The residents from Kathea village were blindfolded and led away on Thursday
Junta soldiers abducted 19 people from a village in southern Shan State last week, blindfolding them before leading them away to be used as human shields, local resistance fighters said.
The residents were taken from the village of Kathea on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Pekhon chapter of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now.
Many of Kathea’s 450 residents fled the village two days earlier after junta shells exploded at a drug rehabilitation clinic where people were sheltering during a clash between the military and a coalition of fighters from the PDF and the Karenni National Defence Force (KNDF).
More than 300 Kathea villagers are now taking shelter to the west in Kawnghwet village and the surrounding area and are in need of aid.
Those who were taken on Thursday included elderly people who had stayed behind to take care of the village. Soldiers took eight villagers at around 3pm and then arrived a few hours later to take the other 11, the Pekhon PDF spokesperson said.
“We still do not know where they were taken,” he said. “The military is also breaking into houses in the village.” His group is trying to find out the identities of all the people who were taken, he added.
One woman from Kathea told Myanmar Now that her 48-year-old uncle and 35-year-old cousin were among those taken and that she fears for their lives.
“I think the military confiscated their phones as well,” she said. “I could call before but lost contact once they were taken to be used as human shields.”
Also on Thursday, soldiers abducted a man from the town of Pekhon, about three miles from Kathea. Most residents have fled the town but Myint Kyaw, 60, stayed behind to look after his milling business and his wife who had just given birth.
“They put a bag on his head when they took him. Locals said that they also tied his hands behind his back,” the Pekhon PDF spokesperson said. Soldiers also stole bags of rice, a car and 5m kyat from Myint Kyaw, he added.
Military convoys have been patrolling Pekhon and soldiers have been breaking into people’s houses and stealing things, a local from the town said.