Burnt unidentified human remains were found by guerrilla fighters in a mango orchard in Mandalay’s eastern Madaya Township last Friday, just two days after the Myanmar army carried out a raid on a nearby resistance base.
Junta forces attacked a base belonging to the Naga Nyi Naung guerrilla force in Thaphan Kaing village on May 4, and engaged in a subsequent clash with them and four of the group’s allies before torching homes in the community.
The troops arrested five resistance fighters and a villager after the fighting.
Some 200 soldiers had set up camp in the mango orchard in question prior to the ambush on the base and left soon after.
“For a long time, they were acting strangely around the site where the bodies were found,” a member of the Madaya People’s Defence Force—which was among the groups that fought the junta’s forces following the raid—told Myanmar Now on May 6.
He said that the troops had returned to the orchard after the assault on the base and had parked a vehicle there, suggesting it had broken down or been damaged in an attack.
“We were suspicious, so we went there today to check it out, and we found a pile of ashes with some bones in it,” he explained.
He speculated that the bones belonged to the six people that were captured, and noted that he had seen a photo of their bodies in a pile on social media, presumably posted by a member of the military.
Myanmar Now has not seen the photo in question.
The leader of Naga Nyi Naung confirmed that two women and three men in his defence force were taken during last week’s raid, but that he could not confirm that the remains in the orchard belonged to them.
“Some of our members were captured but many of [the junta troops] died that day as well, so the bodies could belong to either the six victims or their own soldiers. We still don’t know for sure,” he said.
According to members of the resistance alliance, there were 11 Myanmar army casualties in the clash on May 4.
Eastern Madaya Township has seen frequent junta assaults on villages and regular ambushes by guerrilla forces on military columns moving through the area.
A junta convoy leaving Thaphan Kaing last Friday was struck by improvised explosive devices planted by guerrilla fighters on the border between Madaya and Patheingyi townships. Soldiers from the military unit reportedly retaliated by shooting and killing a 40-year-old woman working on a nearby farm, according to local sources.
An additional 50-troop column had arrived in eastern Madaya on Saturday, they added.
Myanmar Now is unable to confirm the reports of a local casualty or of new troop movements in the area.
The military council has not released any information on the events in Madaya.