At least 22 people killed in suspected massacre at Myanmar monastery

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, in what opponents of the military regime say was a massacre of civilians carried out by the army.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s junta, which staged a coup two years ago to overthrow the elected government, said its troops had been involved in clashes with rebel fighters in the Pinlaung area southern Shan State, but did not harm any civilians.
junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said in a statement that the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and another rebel group entered Nan Neint village after government forces arrived to provide security along with a local people’s militia.
“When the terrorist groups opened fire violently… 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 soldiers entered Nan Neint on Sunday and found corpses scattered in a Buddhist monastery.
Videos and photographs provided by the KNDF and another group, the Karenni Revolution Union (KRU), showed bullet wounds to the torso and head of the corpses and bullet holes in the walls of the monastery. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the material.
A post-mortem report by Dr Ye Zaw, part of the National Unity Government, a civilian administration in exile formed since the coup, said automatic weapons were likely used at close range to kill 22 people , including three monks in saffron robes.
“As there were no military uniforms, equipment and ammunition found on the rest of the bodies, it is evident that they were civilians,” said the report, a copy of which was reviewed. by Reuters.
“Since all the corpses were found in the compound of Nan Nein monastery, it is obvious that it was a massacre.”
Fighting has been raging in the area for at least two weeks, with around 100 structures burned in and around the site of the alleged massacre in Nan Neint, according to local media, resistance forces and satellite images verified by Witness from Myanmaran organization that documents human rights abuses.
The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the military seized power in February 2021, ending a decade of attempts at democracy by toppling the administration led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi .
Resistance movements, some armed, emerged across the country, which the military countered with lethal force and branded as “terrorists”. Some ethnic military forces also opposed the junta.
Aung Myo Min, human rights minister in the national unity government, said the junta had stepped up combat operations and attacked groups of unarmed civilians in at least four cases in the past two weeks.
“It is clearly evident that the strategy of the junta is to target civilians, which is a crime against humanity,” he told reporters during an online press conference.
The junta denied it was targeting civilians, saying its troops only responded to attacks by “terrorists”.
At least 3,137 people have been killed in the military crackdown since the coup, according to the nonprofit Political Prisoner Assistance Association.
The United Nations has accused the army of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


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