Five men die during military interrogation in Bago

Five men taken into junta custody for suspected involvement in an attack on a police station in Bago Region’s Waw Township died during interrogation, according to local sources.

Members of the military reportedly notified the men’s families in late May of their deaths, but Myanmar Now learned of it this week through members of a local resistance force.

The victims included Myint Thein, 60, and Kyaw Myint Thein, in his 50s, both from Kyone Pa village, as well as three men in their 50s from Boe Sabei village: Tin Myo Khaing, Win Zaw Htay and San Shay.

Myanmar Now has been unable to make contact with the police or the family members of the men to verify the dates of both their arrests and their deaths. The men were among 30 people detained following Operation Nan Htike Aung, an ambush of the Nyaung Hkar Shay police station carried out by Waw Township People’s Defence Force on April 27.

At least two of the five men were said to have been arrested immediately following the assault on the site, and had been missing ever since.

One police officer was killed and two were injured in the resistance operation.

Only the body of Kyaw Myint Thein was permitted to be viewed by his family members. Relatives of the other four victims were not told the cause or time of death of their loved ones.

“The families don’t even know when exactly they died,” the spokesperson of the Waw Township People’s Defence Force said. “The military only returned the body of Kyaw Myint Thein. The families of the other victims still haven’t seen the dead bodies. The police only told them that they had died.”

Ten of the locals arrested following the police station attack were released in the days and weeks that followed and eight more were sent to military-controlled courts for hearings. With five reportedly dead, seven others remain unaccounted for, the resistance spokesperson added.

Junta scouts have been deployed across Waw Township—a strategic location separated from Mon State by the Sittaung River, and through which the Yangon-Mawlamyine highway runs. The military has built posts in the township along the western banks of the waterway, fearing advances by ethnic resistance forces in Bago, Mon State and Karen State.

Serious battles between the military and anti-regime groups have broken out in eastern Bago and in Mon State’s Kyaikhto Township, which also includes territory in which the Karen National Union (KNU), a powerful anti-junta ethnic armed organisation, is active.

The Waw People’s Defence Force spokesperson explained that the military had declared the township as a “red zone,” and had fortified its presence there fearing KNU forces would cross the Sittaung River to attack them.

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