Soldiers from the Myanmar military are suspected of carrying out the torture and murder of six civilians, including four teenage boys, in a predominantly Christian area of Kayah State.
The bodies were discovered dumped in a sewage pit in Yay-yo village, Loikaw Township, on 26 January.
The dead were identified as 17-year-olds Eugene, Fei Dae Le and David Kyaw Soe, and 16-year-old John Paul. The two other victims have yet to be named but have been confirmed as residents of the township’s Naung Yar Ward.
A driver said that soldiers have begun checking trucks heading to Kayah on a route via Aungban in southern Shan and are only letting them through in exchange for bribes.
“Cars can get through much easier, but still [troops] ask if they are carrying any food or other things,” said the driver.
“The trucks in front of us were stopped because they didn’t give [the soldiers] money.”
Local aid workers estimate that 170,000 people were displaced by military violence in the nine months up to the end of February 2022 in Kayah State, which has a large Christian presence mainly among the ethnic Karenni population.
They say Tatmadaw soldiers have killed at least 221 civilians and arrested 220 people in the state since the military seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021.
The Tatmadaw has for many years persecuted the Christian-majority Chin, Kachin and Karen ethnic groups, as well as the large Christian communities in Kayah and Shan states, and the Muslim-majority Rohingya.
From Barnabas contacts and other sources