Five men, including two junta-appointed local administrators, were recently found dead in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township, with no group having claimed responsibility for their murders at the time of reporting.
Locals found Ohn Kyaw, the 44-year-old administrator for Met Lin Chaung village, along with three slain relatives near the village of Sut Awng on June 1. They were identified as Zaw Win Hteik, 42; Win Tint, 33; and Myo Htet, 22. All four men had gunshot wounds, according to eyewitnesses.
The next day, Ar Byel, age 55 and the administrator for Nat Hmaw village, was found in the community of Ywar Haung. An officer for the social welfare group that sent his body to the Hpakant Township morgue said that he appeared to have been beaten before he died.
The social welfare officer told Myanmar Now on June 3 that the deceased’s family had already collected his body for burial.
Hpakant locals speculated that the administrators were targeted by resistance forces for their alleged affiliations with the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia, which also has been carrying out assaults on villages and members of the resistance, often accompanied by Myanmar army soldiers.
Another alleged Pyu Saw Htee member was shot dead at his home in Hpakant’s San Kywel village in mid-May. No groups claimed responsibility for the killing.
The social welfare group officer who responded to the scene of Ar Byel’s murder added that residents were on “high alert” in Seik Mu village tract—where Sut Awng, Met Lin Chaung and Nam Hmaw—are all located, and where junta soldiers were reportedly on the move.
“There is a junta column in that area, which means that battles are going to break out soon. The locals are all on high alert,” he explained, referring to potential clashes with the ethnic armed organisation the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which is also active in the area.
On May 27, the KIA used explosive devices to attack the unit in question near the village of Hseng Taung, reportedly resulting in the death of three junta soldiers.
A military unit stationed near Aung Su village in Hpakant fired heavy artillery into the area that same day, injuring a 15-year-old boy, according to the KIA.
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The surprise announcement comes as the country’s military junta continues to face pressure both at home and abroad
On January 4, Myanmar’s Independence Day, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the country’s publicly mandated National Unity Government, said that Myanmar people will fight for their “second independence” and build a new nation with the unity that they have achieved. He also criticised the military, saying that it was no longer the institution that it was when it played a vital role in helping the country win its independence in 1948. Decades of corruption and the brainwashing of soldiers by power-hungry leaders have systematically ruined it, he said.
“[Military leaders] cultivated the habit of bullying the people with arms and this is why there have been military coups in our country’s history and the people have to suffer longer under the military rule,” he said in a statement.