Over 30 people, including women and children, have been killed and their bodies burned in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah state by the military in a fresh crackdown on protesters in the country.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi nearly 11 months ago, claiming fraud in a November election that her party had won.
According to local human rights group, Karenni Human Rights Group, the burnt bodies were discovered near Mo So village of Hpruso town on Saturday.
“We strongly denounce the inhumane and brutal killing which violates human rights,” the group said in a Facebook post.
State media also reported the Myanmar military saying it had shot and killed an unspecified number of “terrorists with weapons” from the opposition armed forces in the village.
The people, according to the military, were in seven vehicles and did not stop for the soldiers when it was flagged.
However, photos shared by the human rights group and local media showed the charred remains of bodies on burned-out truck beds.
The Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, one of the largest of several civilian militias opposing the generals who led a February 1 coup, said the dead were not their members but civilians seeking refuge from the conflict.
“We were so shocked at seeing that all the dead bodies were different sizes, including children, women and old people,” a commander from the group said on the condition of anonymity.
A resident, who also asked not to be named for security reasons, said he was aware of the fire on Friday night but could not go to the scene as there was ongoing shooting.
“I went to see it this morning. I saw bodies that had been burned, and also the clothes of children and women spread around,” the resident said.
Earlier this month, a court in Myanmar found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of charges widely dismissed as politically motivated and sentenced her to detention at an undisclosed location.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was convicted in a ruling on Monday, was initially given a four-year term, but the sentence was reduced after a partial pardon from coup leader and army Chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Civilians enraged by the coup and subsequent crackdown on protesters have been taking up arms with many local resistance forces have sprung up across the country.