The incinerated bodies of 11 civilians, four of whom were young children, have been discovered after troops massacred residents of Letpadaw village in Yinmarbin, Sagaing Region.
Violence in Sagaing’s townships have recently reached unprecedented levels. After an internet blackout was imposed on the region on March 3, troops are reported to have launched numerous indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations. Multiple killings and arson attacks have been reported almost every day since troops stationed in the region.
Letpadaw residents allege that soldiers set fire to the bodies of 10 people and two homes located near to Letpadaw’s monastery at around 3 p.m. on March 8. They further claim to have discovered the burned corpse of an elderly woman, and say that the search for others missing in light of the attack continues.
It is currently unclear how many of the victims of this latest massacre were killed before their bodies were burned, or, conversely, if any had been burned alive.
A leader of the Daung Min PDF, a resistance group operating in the region, told DVB that, on March 7, troops deployed at Si Hlaung village in preparation of launching operations against neighboring villages. They entered Letpadaw on March 8 and were countered by PDF factions. Civilians who failed to flee were reportedly slaughtered by soldiers who attacked with small arms fire and heavy artillery barrages.
Current reports suggest that six other civilians, at least two of whom were children, were murdered by troops in an a seperate incident in Letpadaw on the same day.
It was on the morning of March 9 that locals say they discovered the charred remains of eleven of their fellow villagers.
“[Burma Army troops] have moved on to the west; we returned after they left our village and found that two people, a mother and her child, were among those burned. The child was just a baby, and would’ve been only five years old. Another [victim] was only nine years old. We have found 11 dead [burned corpses] so far, yet will continue searching in the east of the village,” a Letpadaw resident reportedly told social media based news outlet, People’s Spring Media.
Residents said that, as troops were still stationed in the region, they feared that violent massacres could occur in each of Yinmarbin’s villages in the coming days.
Over the past two weeks, the military has unleashed a series of atrocities upon Yinmarbin township; on Feb. 28, troops took 80 elementary school pupils hostage in Chin Pone village, reportedly to use as a human shield during battles with PDF factions. At least eleven civilians were killed during raids on the village.
Over the same period, thousands of Sagaing homes are reported to have been burned down in military arson attacks typical of the Burmese military’s scorched earth campaigns.
Residents of Sagaing’s Kale township yesterday told DVB that they believed soldiers were committing deepening atrocities partially due to their increasing use of yaba, a type of methamphetamine popular with Burma Army troops.