Two more civilians brutally murdered near Letpadaung copper mining project

The men, believed to have been captured by junta troops, are found dismembered following a Myanmar military raid on a nearby village in Sagaing’s Salingyi Township

Locals found the mutilated bodies of two men near the Letpadaung copper mining project in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi Township on Wednesday morning following a military raid on a nearby village. 

The deceased were identified as Tin Soe, 50, and Pwa Gyi, 40, of Moe Gyo Pyin village, which was attacked by a column of some 70 junta soldiers on Tuesday. 

“Tin Soe was decapitated and both of Pwa Gyi’s hands were cut off from the wrist,” said a villager who saw the bodies. “There were also so many knife wounds on Tin Soe’s body… Intestines were also falling out of Pwa Gyi’s stomach.”

Locals said that it was likely that Tin Soe and Pwa Gyi were killed by the same military unit that raided and shelled Moe Gyo Pyin.

“It seems that they were captured inside the village, taken outside, and then tortured and killed. I think they were killed in the same place where they were found,” said the local man, referring to a field located near Moe Gyo Pyin.

Villagers cremated the bodies on Wednesday morning. 

Smoke is seen rising from Moe Gyo Pyin village on June 21 following  (Supplied)

Smoke is seen rising from Moe Gyo Pyin village on June 21 following  (Supplied)

An officer in the Young People’s Force, a Salingyi-based resistance group, said that in retaliation for the military’s assault on Moe Gyo Pyin, they had ambushed three junta police outposts guarding the Letpadaung mining project, the fenced boundary of which is located just across the road from the village. It is jointly operated by China’s Wanbao Mining and the military conglomerate Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL).

“We attacked them because they torched Moe Gyo Pyin, unprovoked,” he said, adding that an estimated two-thirds of the village’s 280 households were destroyed in the raid.

A local in the Letpadaung area said he saw the village burning at around 4pm on Tuesday, and that the attacks by resistance fighters began soon after. 

“The defence forces attacked them from Se Te Zee Taw, located south of the copper mining project, as soon as smoke started coming out of the village. We also heard gunshots and heavy artillery shells coming from there,” he told Myanmar Now. 

The soldiers reportedly took hostages in Moe Gyo Pyin but later released them. They also raided Se Te Zee Taw—eight miles away—where they occupied a monastery and held some 20 villagers as of Wednesday morning. 

Since military assaults in the Letpadaung area intensified last month, thousands of locals from at least 15 villages have been displaced. 

In late May, two men from Salingyi’s Ywar Thar village who had fled the junta offensives were found murdered after being detained by Myanmar army soldiers. Severe injuries indicated that they had been tortured. 

They were identified as employees of the Myanmar branch of Wanbao subsidiary Yangtse Copper Co Ltd, which jointly operates two other copper mines with UMEHL: Sabetaung and Kyisintaung, known as the S&K mines.

A coalition of local resistance forces active in Salingyi and neighbouring Yinmabin Township released a joint statement in April calling on the Wanbao and Yangtse companies to halt their operations at the Letpadaung and S&K mining sites by early May, accusing them of propping up the coup regime. 

A column of around 100 junta troops has since been stationed near the Yangtse Copper Co office and linked to assaults on multiple villages in the area, as well as ongoing clashes with guerrilla forces. 

Myanmar Now News