The bodies of around 40 people killed by junta soldiers were found in the resistance stronghold of Kani Township in Sagaing Region in July, according to residents.
“Junta troops raided our villages. We fled and found corpses when we came back to the villages. Nearly 40 bodies were found in July. Most recently we found 12 charred bodies in Taung Pauk,” a Kani resident told The Irrawaddy.
Kani on the Chindwin River is around 50km from Monywa, the regional capital. The township has seen several massacres as the junta scaled up military operations against the resistance. The onslaught forced more than 7,000 residents from at least four villages to flee their homes.
In the junta’s latest massacre, 12 bodies, including that of a 14-year-old boy, were found in Taung Pauk village on July 30. “The other victims included three brothers and people from Thayet Taw and Kho Twin. The bodies were seriously disfigured,” said another resident.
Only some bodies have been retrieved for burial because the military is still active in the area, he added.
The bodies were found four days after junta troops entered Taung Pauk and Thayet Taw villages and detained male villagers suspected of helping the People’s Defense Force (PDF) resistance. All the 12 victims were reportedly detained by the junta on July 26.
Some bodies were burned and some were rotting but they were all badly bruised and exhibited signs of torture, said residents. This is the third time in less than a month that numerous bodies were found near villages in Kani.
The bodies of 16 civilians were found scattered in the jungle surrounding Yin village tract on July 11 and 12 after villagers fled junta raids on July 8. Witnesses said some were shot dead by junta soldiers chasing them.
Seven bodies were discovered on July 28 and five more were found on farms near Zee Pin Twin village on July 29. One of them was a disabled man and another was in his 60s. Some had apparently been hanged. Residents said some bodies might be PDF fighters because they were not residents.
The military has not yet responded to questions about the killings in Kani.
“The military regime might say they were armed rebels but they were not shot in shootouts. They all bore signs of torture and the bodies were intentionally hidden. It is a war crime,” said a lawyer.
Kani overwhelmingly voted for the National League for Democracy in the 2020 general election. All the NLD candidates won in Kani with each securing more than 83 percent of the vote. It was one of the first towns to take to the streets after the coup in February.
Residents soon started using rudimentary hunting rifles and homemade guns and blowing up junta vehicles. The junta responded with raids and detentions in Kani’s villages. The resistance formed the Kani Township PDF on May 10 attacking junta troops, including on the Chindwin River.
Original Post: The Irrawaddy