July 7, 2023

Myanmar junta forces murder seven civilians in Wetlet village

Myanmar Now

Regime troops killed seven people and injured several others in three separate incidents in and around the village of Thamayoe in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township on Thursday, according to local sources.

Phoe Lwin, a 55-year-old fishmonger, was reportedly shot dead when he ran into a junta column just outside of the village, which is located on the eastern bank of the Muu River some 25km west of the township’s administrative centre.

Then, at around 4:30am, the same column opened fire on a truck that was carrying six women to a neighbouring village to sell goods in the local market, according to Thamayoe residents. 

The truck’s driver and three of his passengers were killed instantly, and at least one of the other women was said to be in critical condition.

“They shot at the tractor from the front, hitting the engine many times. The women had many gunshot wounds. Some were killed right away by shots to the head, while others bled to death,” said a local man who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

The four who were killed were identified as the 27-year-old driver, Lwin Moe, and three of his passengers: Hnin Hlaing, 57, Aye Nu Win, 40, and Nu Khine, 46.

“It infuriates me that they did this to civilians for no reason. It wouldn’t be so painful if the victims were resistance fighters,” said the local man.

Resistance forces operating in the area said they had to wait until around 6am to rescue the survivors, as some of the junta troops stayed behind to shoot anyone who approached the victims.

“They were shot all over their bodies and their wounds were very bad. We couldn’t save everyone, as some had already died,” said an officer of the Shwebo District People’s Defence Force (PDF).

After this second shooting, the junta column of around 60 soldiers entered Thamayoe, where they proceeded to kill two more villagers.

Phyu Phyu San, 30, and Thein Hlaing, 62, were both shot to death on sight while trying to run away from the approaching soldiers, according to the PDF officer and other sources.

“The woman was shot in the chest, arms and legs, while the man was shot in the head at point blank range. His brains were splattered all over the place. They ran into the assaulting junta column while trying to flee,” he said.

The column then ransacked several houses in the village and looted shops in the market before crossing the Muu River to Ayadaw Township sometime before noon.

The bodies of the deceased were all cremated later the same day, according to a member of a local volunteer group who helped to recover their remains.

“It was heartbreaking, but I braced myself and retrieved the bodies. The fact that they were just civilians made it that much sadder,” he said.

In late June, another junta column of around 100 troops reportedly killed four civilians during raids on villages in western Wetlet Township.

The military also carried out a series of airstrikes on villages near the town of Wetlet on June 29.

The column responsible for Thursday’s killings reportedly left Shwebo Township the day before and spent the night in Ywar Thar Gyi, a village located about 13km east of Thamayoe.

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