Burma Army IB 68 Fires Shells from Village Temple, Killing 52-year-old Farmer in Lashio

In the evening of August 18, 2019, Burma Army troops from Infantry Battalion 68 fired shells from the local temple directly into the village of Koong Sa, about 10 kilometers northeast of Lashio town, killing a 52-year-old farmer.

Early that morning, Brotherhood Alliance troops had passed near Koong Sa. Soon afterwards, Burma Army IB 68 troops began firing shells towards Koong Sa and nearby villages from about five kilometers to the west, damaging several houses. Burma Army helicopters also dropped bombs in the nearby jungle, causing many villagers to start fleeing from their homes.

Around midday, about fifty IB 68 troops, led by Major Aung Gyi, entered Koong Sa and set up camp in the village temple, where many villagers were taking shelter. That evening, at about 6 pm, these troops began firing 60 mm shells directly into Koong Sa village.

One of the shells fell near 52-year-old Loong Aye, who was searching for his family at a neighbour’s house, about 200 meters from the temple. Shrapnel struck him in the chest, killing him instantly.  His body was picked up by a social welfare group the next day and taken to Lashio Hospital, then cremated.

Loong Aye was a rice farmer. He is survived by his wife, Nang Keng, and his twin 13-year-old children: his son Sai Sarm Boon (a novice at the village temple) and his daughter Zarm Nyo.

When the IB 68 troops left Koong Sa early on August 19, they ordered the village chairman to accompany them as their guide, and warned him not to tell others about the shelling.

Detailed timeline of Burma Army aerial bombing and mortar attacks in Lashio, northern Shan State (August 17-19, 2019)

August 17, 2019

8 am: Locals heard gunfire around Koong Joang village, north of Ta Boong village (where Burma Army IB 68 is based) – about four kilometers northeast of Lashio town. The gunfire continued on and off until midday. During this time some Koong Joang villagers fled to take shelter in Ta Boong temple.

In the morning, an explosion was heard at the Thein Phyu petrol station, near Ho Puek village, about ten kilometers north of Lashio, on the main road to Hsenwi. Smoke and flames were seen in front of the petrol station. After this, villagers from Ho Puek, as well as Mak Khee Nu tract, fled to Lashio for shelter.

August 18, 2019:

4 am: Some Brotherhood Alliance troops passed through Ho Na village, about 11 kilometers northeast of Lashio town.

7 am: Over 100 Burma Army troops from IB 68 arrived in Mak Khee Nu village (3 kilometers west of Ho Na village) and set up mortars east of the village, near Mak Khee Nu temple.

8 to 11 am: The IB 68 troops fired mortars from Mak Khee Nu to the east, in the direction of the villages of Bang Jurng, Kong Phiu, Ho Na, Koong Sa and Kong Hoong. At that time, shells hit Loong Luen and Pa Nu’s house in Ho Na village and the fencing of Loong Aung Sa and Pa Nyunt’s house in Kong Hoong village, causing damage, but fortunately the inhabitants had already fled, so no one was hurt.

11 am: About 50 Burma Army troops from IB 68, led by Major Aung Gyi, walked east from Mark Khee Nu village to Koong Sa village, and camped in Koong Sa temple. Many of the villagers from Koong Sa had taken shelter in the temple earlier that day, and were afraid when the soldiers came to stay with them.

11 am-12 pm: A helicopter was seen flying from Lashio to the north of Ho Na village. It dropped about ten bombs in the jungle about 500 meters north of Ho Na village. It then disappeared, and about ten minutes later a helicopter was again seen flying over the same place, dropping about ten bombs.

1 pm: About 400 villagers from Koong Sa village tract, Ho Na village tract and Pang Joang village tract, who had remained in their homes, packed their clothes and fled to stay at Koong Sa temple.

About 6 pm: Some villagers in Koong Sa were loading their belongings onto small Chinese tractors to flee to Lashio town, when Burma Army troops stationed in Koong Sa temple began firing 60 mm shells directly into the village. About six shells were fired. Some shells exploded, and some did not.

One of the shells landed 200 meters east of the temple, killing a 52-year-old year old farmer called Loong Aye instantly.

Loong Aye had returned from his farm to look for his family at home and when he did not find them, went to ask his neighbor Loong Ding if he knew whether they were. Loong Ding told Loong Aye that his wife and two children had already gone to take shelter in the village temple. Loong Aye said: “Well then, I am on duty to safeguard the village and I will go and do that now.” Loong Aye began walking out of the gate of Loong Ding’s house, and at that moment, a shell fired by the Burma Army from the temple landed on the road about five meters away from him. Shrapnel from the explosion hit his chest and killed him instantly. Loong Ding was fortunately unhurt.

At that time, another shell landed in the compound of Pa Hseng’s house in Koong Sa and hit the wall of the house and roof.

About 7 pm: A helicopter again came flying north of Ho Na village, and dropped about ten bombs in the jungle.

August 19, 2019

5 am: The Burma Army troops at Koong Sa temple started leaving Koong Sa village and walked east to Wan Kard-Wo Long village, Pang Na village tract. The Burma Army troops called the Koong Sa village tract chairman Loong Aung Lu to accompany them to Wan Kard-Wo Long village. When they reached there, the chairman told them that he needed to go back to his office. The Burma Army told him that if the news about the shelling on the previous day came out, they would blame him.

12 pm: A social welfare group came and took the corpse of Loong Aye to Lashio hospital and cremated it the next day, August 20.

Contact

Sai Hor Hseng                      +66: 63-389-5088              (Shan, English)

Sai Yord Luen                       +66: 97-173-1530             (Shan, Burmese)

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