Soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee militiamen murder four, burn hundreds of homes in Sagaing

The mob also looted several villages and carried the stolen goods away on several trucks, locals said 

Junta soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee militiamen murdered four people, burned hundreds of homes, and looted villages during a three-day rampage through Sagaing Region’s Pale Township last week, local residents have told Myanmar Now.

The mob of about 100 members of the junta’s forces entered the village of Min Taing Pin firing their guns at around 11am on Thursday, bringing with them and then killing four captives who had their hands tied, two residents there said.

They then raided homes and detained around 100 people, including 15 who were elderly, inside a local school. One woman named Htay Kyi was reportedly beaten while being detained.

The soldiers then ransacked and looted houses, a jewellery store and mobile phone shops. “It was nothing more than a massive robbery,” one of the residents said.

“They started firing shots even before they entered the village,” he added. “Some people started running but others didn’t because the other junta forces that came into the village before didn’t cause much trouble. It’s just so bad this time.”

The second villager said that the soldiers and militiamen stole around 700 million kyat ($393,000) worth of cash and gold from the jewellery store and around 45 million kyat in cash and phone top-up cards from a money exchanger.

The soldiers broke down doors to enter houses, the second villager said. “They took rice, oil and food supplies for the most part. They also broke into three mobile phone shops and took every single phone, set of earphones and power bank. They even broke open the safes.”

After the robberies, the junta forces loaded the stolen goods into seven military trucks and carried them away.

“Nothing is left in Min Taing Pin,” said a person who is helping residents who fled the village. “They ransacked all the jewellery shops and garment shops. The village is nothing but a huge pile of garbage now. They took all the valuables.”

Residents did not know the names of the four captives who were killed, but recognised them and said they were from the nearby villages of Inn Kan and Ohn Hnauk. Soldiers shot the four of them to death and burned their faces before leaving the bodies outside of Min Taing Pin.

“They burned the bodies before they left the village so we wouldn’t be able to identify them,” the man helping the displaced villagers said.

Both he and the two Min Taing Pin villagers said the junta’s forces detained five women in their early 20s, and that others they spoke to believe the women were raped because they heard them screaming.

“The girls were hiding when the military arrived but they were found and taken by the military,” he said. “I don’t want to say their names for their own safety. Some said they heard the girls screaming. I didn’t hear them though as I was trying to flee.”

Myanmar Now was unable to gather further information about the women or verify what happened after they were detained.


Locals found bodies on the side of the road after the military left Min Taing Pin village on February 3 (Supplied)Locals found bodies on the side of the road after the military left Min Taing Pin village on February 3 (Supplied)

Houses torched

After spending the night in Min Taing Pin, the junta forces marched to the nearby villages of Kaing Twin and Hlaw Kar on Friday evening. All three villages lie along the road connecting Pale to the Magway Region township of Gangaw.

As in Min Taing Pin, they robbed houses and businesses in Kaing Twin and some of them carried the loot away on ten military vehicles to a village called In Pin Htee, where Pyu Saw Htee is known to be active.

The soldiers and Pyu Saw Htee members then began setting fire to houses.

“Almost the entire village of Kaing Twin is lost,” said a man who lives in Pale Township. “We are trying to get there to investigate. We still don’t know the exact number of casualties or amount of damage.”

It was a similar story when the junta’s mob later marched a mile north to the village Hlaw Kar. Hlaw Kar has 800 houses, while Kaing Twin has 400– and a total of 800 houses were burned down across the two villages, a Hlaw Kar resident said.

The fires began in Hlaw Kar village at around 1:30am on Saturday morning and soldiers set fires again at 7am, he added. “The village burned the whole night. All the pigs and cows died in the fire. Even when we went back to check after the military left, three houses were still burning.”

He and others found remnants from bottles used for molotov cocktails and wooden torches used to start the fires, he said. “I think they used the torches to spread the fire from one house to another. It’s just so cruel.”

​​Another Hlaw Kar local said that Pyu Saw Htee members started fires and the soldiers took pictures of themselves pretending to put out the flames before torching more houses. They did the same thing in Kaing Twin, he added.

“The Pyu Saw Htee came into our village first and then they started torching the houses. Then, the junta forces arrived, took photos and torched more houses,” he said.

On Saturday, the soldiers and militiamen travelled to nearby Ingyin Su village, which has a population of around 1,000.

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