At least 22 people killed in suspected massacre at Myanmar monastery

People stand next to military vehicles as they gather to protest against a military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on Feb. 15, 2021. – Reuters/File
  • The army has been blamed for the latest massacre in the troubled region.
  • A spokesman for the junta blamed the rebels for the massacre.
  • Unrest has continued since the military seized power in 2021.

At least 22 people, including three Buddhist monks, were shot dead at close range in central Myanmar last week, according to a doctor’s autopsy report, which opponents of military rule say. Massacre of civilians by the military.

Spokesperson of The junta of Myanmarwhich launched a coup to oust an elected government two years ago, said its troops had been involved in clashes with rebel fighters in the Panlawung region of southern Shan state but had not harmed any civilians.

Junta spokesman Zo Min Tun said in a statement that the Kearny Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and another rebel group entered the village of Nan Nant after government forces arrived to provide security with local militias.

“When the terrorist groups opened fire violently‚Ķ some villagers were killed and injured,” he said.

He did not respond to multiple calls from Reuters for further comment.

Reuters could not independently verify any of the claims.

A KNDF spokesman said its troops entered Nan Nant on Sunday and found bodies scattered in a Buddhist monastery.

Video and photos provided by the KNDF and another group, the Karenni Revolution Union (KRU), showed bullet wounds to the torsos and heads of bodies and bullet holes in the walls of the monastery. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the content.

An autopsy report by Dr. Yi Zhao, who is part of the National Unity Government, the exiled civilian administration formed since the coup, said automatic weapons were likely used to kill 22 people at close range. , including three saffron-clad monks.

“Since no military uniform, equipment and ammunition were found on the rest of the bodies, it is clear that they were civilians,” said the report, a copy of which was seen by the writers.

“Since all the bodies were found on the premises of Nan Nan Monastery, it is obvious that it was a massacre.”

Fighting has raged in the area for at least two weeks, with about 100 structures burned to the ground in and around the site of the alleged massacre in Nan Nan, confirmed by local media reports, resistance forces and an organization called Myanmar Witness. According to satellite images. which documents human rights violations.

The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the military seized power in February 2021, ousting an administration led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, ending a decade of tentative steps toward democracy.

Resistance movements, some armed, have sprung up across the country, which the military has countered with lethal force and labeled “terrorists”. Some ethnic military forces have also backed against the junta.

Aung Myo Min, the minister for human rights in the government of national unity, said the junta had stepped up hostilities and attacked groups of unarmed civilians in at least four incidents in the past two weeks.

“It is clearly evident that the junta’s strategy is to target civilians, which is a crime against humanity,” he told reporters at an online media conference.

The junta has denied that it has targeted civilians, saying its troops only respond to attacks by “terrorists”.

At least 3,137 people have been killed in military crackdowns since the uprising, according to the nonprofit Aid for Political Prisoners.

The United Nations has accused the army of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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