Myanmar villagers accuse junta troops of massacre

Over 2,100 people have been killed in the junta's crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Myanmar junta troops killed at least 10 people and torched hundreds of houses during a raid on a village as fighting rages in a hot spot of opposition to the coup, locals and media reports said.

North-west Sagaing region has seen fierce fighting and bloody reprisals since the coup last year, with junta troops struggling to crush resistance by a local "People's Defence Force" (PDF).

On July 18, soldiers were dropped near Kyi Su village by two helicopters, one local told AFP, and around 100 people who had not fled were taken prisoner by the military.

"The elderly men were released on the following day while around 10 younger people were kept there," they said, requesting anonymity.

Villagers discovered the bodies as they returned on July 20 after soldiers had left, another resident said.

"I went to look for my animals in the forest but I found nine burnt human bodies with their hands tied," he said.

Another local, also requesting anonymity, said 10 bodies had been found and nine of them had been identified by family members.

They also said the bodies had been found with their hands tied.

At least 30 people from the village are missing, they added.

Around 400 houses in the Muslim quarter of the village had been burned to the ground and a mosque had been partly damaged by fire, said a Muslim resident who fled before troops arrived and whose house was among those torched.

"We survived, but we are displaced. When it rains we have to suffer mosquitoes and bugs," he said, also requesting anonymity.

Local media reported at least 20 charred bodies were found with their hands tied and that hundreds of houses had been torched in Kyi Su.

AFP could not verify reports from the remote region, where Internet access is regularly cut by junta authorities.

A junta spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Locals and media reports have reported killing and burning sprees by junta troops across Sagaing as they struggle to crush opposition to the coup that ousted Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's government last year.

The junta has previously accused "terrorist" PDF groups of setting the fires.

The South-east Asian nation has been in turmoil since the putsch, with almost 700,000 people displaced by violence according to the United Nationsi think  and the economy in tatters.

Over 2,100 people have been killed in the junta's crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

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