A post-mortem report from a doctor says that at least 22 people, including three Buddhist monks, were killed by close-range gunshots in central Myanmar last week. Opponents of the military rule say this was a massacre of civilians by the army.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s junta, which overthrew the elected government in a coup two years ago, said that its troops had fought with rebel fighters in the Pinlaung region of southern Shan state, but that no civilians had been hurt.
In a statement, Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said that the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and another rebel group went into the village of Nan Neint after government forces and a local people’s militia came to provide security.
“When the terrorist groups started shooting violently, some villagers were killed or hurt,” he said.
A KNDF spokesman said that on Sunday, its soldiers went into Nan Neint and found dead bodies all over a Buddhist monastery.
Bullet holes were seen in the walls of the monastery and in the torsos and heads of the dead people in photos and videos released by the KNDF and another group, the Karenni Revolution Union (KRU).
Dr. Ye Zaw, who is part of the National Unity Government, a civil government that has been in exile since the coup, said that 22 people, including three saffron-robed monks, were probably killed with automatic weapons at close range.
“Since none of the other bodies had military uniforms, equipment, or bullets, it is clear that they were civilians,” said the report.
“Since all of the bodies were found on the grounds of the Nan Nein monastery, it is clear that a massacre took place.”
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Fighting Have Been Going on For 2 Weeks
At least two weeks of fighting have been going on in the area, and local media, resistance groups, and satellite images from Myanmar Witness, an organization that tracks human rights violations, say that about 100 buildings have been burned down near and on the site of the alleged massacre in Nan Neint.
The Southeast Asian country has been in trouble since the military took over in February 2021. This ended a decade of slow steps toward democracy by getting rid of the government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The tweet below confirms the news:
At least 22 people killed in suspected massacre at Myanmar monastery https://t.co/4y9PCJKxqm pic.twitter.com/ucOt4zKGWz
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 17, 2023
There are now armed resistance groups all over the country, which the military is fighting with deadly force and calling “terrorists.” Some ethnic military groups have also joined the opposition to the junta.
The National Unity Government’s minister for human rights, Aung Myo Min, said that the junta had stepped up fighting and attacked groups of unarmed civilians at least four times in the last two weeks.
In an online media conference, he told reporters, “It is clear that the junta’s plan is to go after civilians, which is a crime against humanity.”
The junta has said that its troops only attack “terrorists” and don’t go after civilians.
The military crackdown since the coup has killed at least 3,137 people, according to the non-profit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The UN has said that the military has done crimes against humanity and war crimes.
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