More than 30 people, including women and children, have been killed and their bodies burned in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah state, according to a local human rights group, media reports and a resident.
Karenni Human Rights Group said it found the burned bodies of internally displaced people – including elderly people, women and children – killed by the military rulers of Myanmar, near Mo So village of Hpruso town on Saturday.
“We strongly denounce the inhumane and brutal killing which violates human rights,” the group said in a Facebook post.
State media reported the Myanmar military saying it had shot and killed an unspecified number of “terrorists with weapons” from the opposition armed forces in the village.
The people were in seven vehicles and did not stop for the military, it said.
Photos shared by the human rights group and local media showed the charred remains of bodies on burned-out truckbeds.
The Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, one of the largest of several civilian militias opposing the generals who led a February 1 coup, said the dead were not their members but civilians seeking refuge from the conflict.
“We were so shocked at seeing that all the dead bodies were different sizes, including children, women and old people,” a commander from the group told Reuters news agency, asking not to be named.
A resident, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said he was aware of the fire on Friday night but could not go to the scene as there was ongoing shooting.
“I went to see this morning. I saw bodies that had been burned, and also the clothes of children and women spread around,” he told Reuters by phone.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi nearly 11 months ago, claiming fraud in a November election that her party had won.
International observers have said the ballot was fair.
Earlier this month, a court in Myanmar found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of charges widely dismissed as politically motivated and sentenced her to detention at an undisclosed location.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was convicted in a ruling on Monday, was initially given a four-year term. The sentence was reduced after a partial pardon from coup leader and army chief Min Aung Hlaing, state TV reported.
Civilians enraged by the coup and subsequent crackdown on protesters have been taking up arms. Many local resistance forces have sprung up across the country.
The military has outlawed many opponents, labelling them traitors or terrorists, including a self-proclaimed National Unity Government that seeks to lobby the international community and prevent the military from consolidating power.