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Airstrike and massacre in Pinlaung

June 5th, 2023  •  Author:   Myanmar Witness  •  3 minute read
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At least 20 killed by airstrikes, arson and close range bullets in Pinlaung Township

Key Event Details

  • Location of Incident: Nam Neint village (နန်းနိမ့်), Pinlaung Township (ပင်လောင်း), Shan State (ရှမ်း) [19.900822, 96.836592].

  • Date/Time of Incident: 11 March 2023

  • Alleged Perpetrator(s) and Involvement:

    • Myanmar Military

    • Pa-O National Army (military-allied forces)

    • Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF)

    • People’s Defence Forces (PDF)

  • Summary of Investigation: 

    • Pinlaung township has experienced a number of reported clashes taking place between the military, military-allied forces, and local defence forces in the area.

    • Eleven days before the incident at Nam Neint village, reports of an airstrike four kilometres away in Tawng Me Thin (တောင်မဲသင်း) village were verified by Myanmar Witness.

    • Myanmar Witness geolocated user-generated content (UGC) showing Nam Neint village on fire and identified FIRMS data that suggests this fire took place on 11 March 2023. This fire was seen burning between 0715 local time and 1045 local time.

    • Images of deceased individuals were geolocated by Myanmar Witness to Nam Neint village. The images indicate that the individuals had died very recently, and fires were captured still burning.

    • Although the capture date of the various pieces of UGC in this investigation cannot be verified, Myanmar Witness determined that the incident almost certainly took place on 11 March 2023, likely between 0715 and 0847 local time.

    • While the perpetrators cannot be conclusively identified, there is information to suggest that the Myanmar military were present in the area at the time.

Warning: This report contains graphic imagery.

Summary

On 27 February 2023 in Pinlaung Township, Southern Shan State, The Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) and the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) attacked a Pa-O National Organization (PNO) checkpoint near the village of Tawng Me Thin village. At least 10 Myanmar military and PNO personnel were reportedly killed in this incident. The PNO is a military-aligned organisation, with an armed wing: the Pa-O National Army (PNA). They have known ties to the Union and Solidary Development Party (USDP)

Due to the fighting in the region, many villagers from Tawng Me Thin and the surrounding villages were reportedly forced to flee to other villages in Pinlaung (ပင်လောင်း) and Naungtayar sub-Township (နောင်တရားမြို့နယ်ခွဲ). 

On 28 February 2023, reports on social media claimed that Tawng Me Thin village was hit by an airstrike. Myanmar Witness identified footage showing a Myanmar Air Force (MAF) K-8 aircraft flying over Tawng Me Thin village. In the footage, the village appears to have been attacked with the aircraft; however, Myanmar Witness could not verify the date this incident took place.

On 11 March 2023, the Myanmar military allegedly raided Nam Neint village, burning homes and killing more than 20 residents – including at least three monks. Civilians allegedly hid inside the monastery compound while the military burned down homes. 

Myanmar Witness has verified several images showing at least 22 separate deceased individuals in the monastery compound, as well as evidence of burnt homes. The images of bodies are time stamped to 11 March 2023, but could not be independently chronolocated. However, NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) confirms the presence of fire in Nam Neint village on 11 March 2023. Using Suncalc, Myanmar Witness analysed some of the identified UGC and broadly chronolocated its origin to be between 0715 and 0847 local time. 


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