BANGKOK (AP) – Soldiers in Myanmar rampaged through several villages and killing at least 17 people, residents said, in the latest of what critics of the ruling military said are a series of war crimes since the army seized power two years ago.
The bodies of 17 people were recovered last week in the villages of Nyaung Yin and Tar Taing – also called Tatai – in Sagaing region in central Myanmar, according to members of the anti-government resistance and a resident who lost his wife. They said the victims had been detained by the military and in some cases appeared to have been tortured before being killed.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military’s February 2021 seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi prompted nationwide peaceful protests that security forces suppressed with deadly force. The violence triggered widespread armed resistance, which has since turned into what some United Nations (UN) experts characterised as a civil war.
The army has been conducting major offensives in the countryside, including burning villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It has faced some of its toughest resistance in Sagaing, in Myanmar’s historic heartland.
The soldiers involved in last week’s attacks were in a group of over 90 who were brought to the area by five helicopters on February 23, said local leaders of the pro-democracy People’s Defence Forces and independent Myanmar media.
They said the bodies of 14 people, including three women, were found last Thursday on a small island in a river in Nyaung Yin. Three more male victims were found in Tar Taing, including two members of the local resistance.
The neighbouring villages are about 45 kilometres west of the major city of Mandalay.