Soldiers in Myanmar accused of shooting, burning 13 villagers

People gather to protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar on February 28, 2021

Soldiers have been accused of killing 13 people from a village in central Myanmar, 11 of whose burned bodies were discovered on Tuesday.

The incident occurred near the city of Monywa, after local militias opposing military rule carried out at least two bomb attacks on a military convoy.

Locals say soldiers then swept through nearby villages, rounding up and killing six men and five teenagers.

Locals say that people’s defence forces volunteers – armed groups formed to resist military rule in towns and villages – from the area planted two improvised explosives on a road used by the military in an attempted attack.

One of these devices detonated early, killing the two men planting it. When the second device exploded, two more men were reportedly detained and shot dead.

Residents allege the military then swept through nearby villages, rounding up and capturing six men and five teenage boys, who were in hiding. Their hands were tied, and they were shot before their bodies set alight.

Armed volunteer people’s defence forces in towns and villages in Myanmar have carried out hundreds of bombings and assassinations targeting officials working with the military government after the violent suppression of pro-democracy rallies made peaceful protest almost impossible.

Mass protests had broken out across Myanmar after the military seized control of the South East Asian country in February and declared a year-long state of emergency following a general election.

The military claimed there had been widespread fraud during the election late last year, which had returned elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to power. The election commission has dismissed these claims.

Since then, the military has engaged in a brutal campaign of repression, killing at least 1,303 people in the demonstrations and arresting more than 10,600.

Earlier this week, Ms Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison for inciting dissent and breaking Covid-19 rules, in the first of a series of verdicts that could see her jailed for life.

Monywa is also close to a controversial Chinese-owned copper mine, which has provoked protests from local villagers going back 10 years over grievances that the Chinese company operating it, Myanmar Wanbao, is in a joint venture with a conglomerate controlled by the Myanmar military.

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