Tue, 28 Mar 2023

Naypyidaw [Myanmar], March 15 (ANI): At least 29 people, including three monks, were killed at a monastery in Myanmar's Southern Shan State on Saturday as local insurgent groups and the military-backed junta accused each other of carrying out a massacre, reported Myanmar Now.

Photographs posted online on Sunday showed several blood-soaked bodies near the entrance to the village monastery, including three belonging to Buddhist monks. The front of the monastery was also heavily pockmarked with bullet holes.

The latest incident, which comes just weeks after junta troops allegedly murdered 17 villagers in Sagaing Region's Myinmu Township earlier this month, occurred on Saturday in the village of Nanneint, resistance sources there said, reported Myanmar Now.

The photos, published by the anti-regime Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and independently verified by Myanmar Now, clearly show gunshot wounds to the victims' heads and other parts of their bodies.

The bodies were seen lined up and slumped against the monastery's walls with pools of blood on the ground below.

According to a KNDF spokesperson, a total of 22 bodies have since been recovered, while another seven are believed to still be at the site, reported Myanmar Now.

"There are seven more bodies behind the monastery that we haven't been able to collect yet," the spokesperson said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Myanmar has been mired in political violence since military leader Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a 2021 coup that upturned any hope the Southeast Asian nation of 55 million people would become a functioning democracy.

The coup was followed by a brutal military crackdown against pro-democracy protesters that saw civilians shot in the street, abducted in nighttime raids and allegedly tortured in detention.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's junta spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun dismissed accusations the military was responsible.

In comments carried by the state run newspaper Global Light of Myanmar on Tuesday, he blamed "terrorist groups" for the violence at the monastery, naming the Karen National Police Force (KNPF), the People's Defence Force (PDF) and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), an administration uniting ethnic groups in the state.

Since the coup, at least 2,900 people in Myanmar have been killed by junta troops and over 17,500 arrested, the majority of whom are still in detention, according to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The coup has also resulted in a surge in fighting between the military and a raft of resistance groups allied with long-established ethnic militias in a country that has been plagued for decades by insurgencies.

Resistance groups have repeatedly accused Myanmar's military of carrying out mass killings, air strikes and war crimes against civilians in the regions where fighting has raged, charges the junta repeatedly denies - despite a growing body of evidence. (ANI)

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