Nearly a dozen people, including members of Myanmar’s deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) party, have been killed in three townships in Mandalay region on three successive days, locals said Wednesday.
The victims, 10 men and one woman, all died after having their throats slit and were discovered with cards bearing the logo of the Kyaukpadaung township-based “Thway Thauk,” or “Blood Comrades” pro-junta militia group. Their bodies had been disposed of along roads in Nyaung-U, Natogyi and Taungtha townships.
At around 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Myint Zaw Lin, 48, the younger brother of NLD MP Myint Sein was seized by around 20 people in plain clothes, according to locals. They said his body was found the following morning near the train line that runs past Nyaung-U.
NLD member Kyaw Win, 68, was killed on Sunday as he returned home after being forced to flee from taking part in unspecified political activities, the Nyaung-U residents said.
The two were arrested and killed by plainclothes military intelligence officers and members of the Blood Comrades, according to locals. RFA has not been able to confirm the claim.
Seven men in plain clothes also snatched two men and a woman — all NLD members — from Singu township around midnight on Sunday, residents said. Their bodies were discovered near a hospital the following morning.
“They have not done anything political and have been away from the [NLD] party for a long time,” a resident, who did not want to be named for safety reasons, told RFA Burmese.
“At the beginning, I thought they were just taken in for questioning, but all three bodies were found in the morning. One man, Win Aung Moe, was found with his hands tied behind his back.”
Apart from 52-year-old Win Aung Moe, the dead have been identified as Nyein Chan Min, a 40-year-old man and Thaw Mi, a 30-year-old woman. The bodies were cremated on Tuesday.
Natogyi and Taungtha killings
Five residents of Natogyi were abducted by a group of men in military uniforms on Monday and found slain the following morning, sources from the township said.
The dead were identified as Kyaw Hsan, 55, Hla Soe, 56, Thein Lwin, 47, Kyaw Min, 42, and Zin Min, 38.
An official with Natogyi anti-junta People’s Defense Force (PDF) told RFA the bodies were found with their throats slit and the logo of the Blood Comrades placed on or near them. However, he claimed that the perpetrators were junta troops posing as members of the pro-junta militia.
“Men in junta uniforms took them away — some were caught by men on foot while others were taken by men in four vehicles,” the PDF official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The victims are regular civilians. They have no connections with our group. They are not our supporters either. They are not active in politics.”
The PDF official said the Blood Comrades do not operate in Natogyi.
“In the past, there was a similar [pro-junta] group formed to fight against us, but we took the first strike and eliminated them. This time, the military killed these people themselves and labeled them as ‘Thway Thauk’ militia group members.”
In Taungtha, a 40-year-old NLD party member named Tun Zaw was taken from his home by more than a dozen junta troops on Monday and found dead the next day, township residents said. His throat had also been slit and a Blood Comrade card was placed near his body, they said.
The information officer from a PDF unit in Taungtha that calls itself the Guerrilla Warfare Group told RFA that all of the killings over the past three days were carried out by junta troops and said residents of the area are now living in fear.
“We revolutionary fighters have pushed back [against the junta] and now they are committing these murders in response to our actions,” said the officer, who declined to be named.
Thein Htay, the economist, minister and spokesperson of the junta’s Mandalay region administration, claimed he was unaware of the killings, when contacted by RFA for comment.
On April 21, 2022, the Blood Comrades, a formerly unknown pro-junta militia, announced their plan to kill all NLD party members, party supporters, PDF troops and their family members, in a message posted to the Telegram social media platform. Sources say at least 30 people have been killed by the group.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) 2,336 pro-democracy activists and other civilians have been killed by the junta in the 20 months since the military’s Feb. 1, 2021 coup.
Members of the deposed NLD have been frequent targets of violence. According to the NLD, 55 party members have been killed between the military takeover and the end of September this year.
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