Myanmar security forces have been accused of rounding up 11 villagers in a central area of the country before firing on them and setting their bodies afire, according to local residents and media reports.
Several victims were still alive when their bodies were found in a village in Sagaing. This is an area where security forces and militias formed by opponents of military rule have seen fierce fighting since a military coup on Feb 1.
The Myanmar Now news portal published images representing the burnt bodies, as well as video footage circulated on social media.
Reporters were unable to independently verify the authenticity of the footage and the claims about the 11 deaths, and a spokesman for the military junta did not respond to requests for comment.
By telephone, a volunteer aid worker in the area told Reuters troops entered Don Taw village early on Tuesday morning and killed the victims around 11 am.
Myanmar soldiers arrived firing weapons
According to the volunteer, the troops were simply killing anyone and everyone they came across. Volunteers from Don Taw and nearby villages have been assisting people who have fled.
According to the volunteer, it was unclear if the victims were militia members or ordinary civilians.
Since February, when the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, there have been widespread protests and the formation of militias, called People’s Defence Forces (PDF), to take on the well-equipped military.
A PDF member in the region, Kyaw Wunna, said by telephone that soldiers arrived firing weapons, and the detained were taken to a field near the village where they were killed.
In response to a question about the source, Kyaw Wunna refused to disclose the information.
One volunteer aid worker said that about 3,000 people had fled from five villages in the area and had entered hiding, fearful of more arrests and killings.
Htet Ko, a relative of one of the victims, was a 22-year-old university student who was neither armed nor a member of any militia.
My heart aches. This is inhumane,” said the relative, who said the man had tried to flee but had been hit by gunfire.
Shadow civilian government spokesman Dr Sasa alleges that victims were “lashed together, tortured, and burned alive.”
On social media, he said he had listed the names of 11, all males and including a 14-year-old boy.
This horrendous attack demonstrates a disregard for human life on the part of the military, he said.
Monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), cited by the United Nations, claims that more than 10,700 civilians have been detained and 1,300 killed by security forces since the military seized power.
According to the military, AAPP is biased and exaggerates data as well as killing hundreds of soldiers.