Eleven children were killed in junta air strikes in Let Yet Kone Village in Tabayin Township, Sagaing Region on Friday, after which junta soldiers cremated most of their bodies in Ye-U, about 11 km away, in an attempt to remove any trace of the killings, according to local sources.
Two regime Mi-35 helicopters attacked a monastic school in Let Yet Kone Village at 1 p.m. on Friday. Seven children were killed immediately, and 17 other people—three teachers and 14 students—were injured. Two more children died when ground troops raided the village.
Regime forces took the bodies of the seven children who were killed in the initial airstrike, and those who were injured, to a traditional medicine hospital in Ye-U overnight, and cremated their bodies at Ye-U cemetery the following day. They cremated two more bodies at the cemetery around 4 p.m. that day. Locals suggested those two might have been among the students taken for medical treatment at Ye-U traditional medicine hospital.
“Some of the children taken with the vehicle had their lower body parts or limbs severed. A [dismembered] child was wrapped and put in a bamboo basket [used as backpacks by Myanmar military troops]. There were pools of blood inside the school. Pieces of flesh were scattered all over the place, on fans, on the walls and on the ceiling,” said a villager who went to see the monastic school after the air strikes.
The bloodstained floor of the monastic school is seen after the attack. / CJ
Another resident of Let Yet Kone said: “Parents of two children came to search for their children, but all that was left was the clothes of their children. The junta soldiers did not leave a single body part, so parents could not hold funerals.”
The bodies of four boys and two girls, along with a sack of body parts believed to be those of another victim, were cremated at Ye-U cemetery at around 6 a.m. on Saturday, and two more boys were cremated at 4 p.m., according to the Ye-U Township People’s Defense Force (PDF).
Junta troops forced a Let Yet Kone villager to drive the three injured teachers and 14 injured children as well as the bodies of the dead children to Ye-U on Friday evening.
A Ye-U resident who is familiar with the matter said: “The regime forces returned to Ye-U, carrying both the dead and injured children in a vehicle that they forcibly took from Let Yet Kone. The driver thought the bodies were of soldiers. He was shocked when he opened the sacks and found children.”
The injured people are being kept at the traditional medicine hospital in Ye-U, where junta troops have made their base in the town. Some children were seriously injured and had lost limbs.
It is not clear which battalions are responsible for the killings, but local resistance groups believe they belong to Light Infantry Battalion 701 based in Yangon’s Hmawbi, which is under Yangon Command, and Division 33 based in Sagaing.
Apart from the young children, seven other villagers including two teenagers aged 13 and 16 were killed. The five other victims included a woman and were aged 22, 31, 34, 37 and 49.
The monastic school is seen after the junta air raid. / CJ
Junta troops carried out the air raid alleging that resistance fighters were at the village monastery, residents said.
The junta’s Myawady TV said in a newscast on Saturday, “The Myanmar military made checks in response to a tip-off that the Kachin Independence Army [KIA] and PDFs were planning to transport weapons via Let Yet Kone, and the village monastery was a hideout for National League for Democracy supporters and PDF members who extort money from locals and travelers.”
It added: “Civilians were killed as the KIA and PDFs used them as human shields in the exchange of fire.” However, local residents said it was a one-sided attack by junta soldiers.
Similar incidents involving child casualties occurred on Thursday and Saturday. Two displaced sisters aged 7 and 12 taking shelter at a monastery in Moebye on the Shan-Kayah border were killed in a junta artillery strike on the monastery on Thursday.
A 5-year-old boy was shot dead by junta soldiers in Kantbalu Township in Sagaing Region on Saturday.