US, UN condemn Myanmar junta over reported killing of 11 villagers

Soldiers prepare to block a road in front of the Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon on February 15, 2021, as Myanmar's junta deployed extra troops around the country as part of the ongoing military coup.

Bangkok, Thailand | The United States and United Nations condemned the Myanmar junta over what Washington described as "credible and sickening" reports of the killing of 11 villagers, including children, in a restive central region.

The State Department and the UN secretary general's statements came as local media and residents said that soldiers seized 11 people from Dontaw village in Sagaing region following mine and bomb attacks on a military convoy a day earlier.

"We are outraged by credible and sickening reports that the Burmese military bound 11 villagers –- including children –- in northwest Burma and burned them alive," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, using the country's former name.

The Myanmar junta, which seized power in a coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi's government 10 months ago, denied the claims.

The junta has been locked in a bloody stalemate with militias dotted around the country, fighting to overturn the coup.

The state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Friday the reports were "fake news" and evidence of a "conspiracy by local and international connections".

- 'Deeply concerned' -

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a resident told AFP they saw "dead bodies lying with their hands tied, still smoking" after troops left the village.

A video posted on social media purported to show several badly charred bodies lying on the ground.

"It hurts us all... They don't even look human," says one voice in the clip that purports to show the remains.

AFP digital verification reporters found no evidence the clip had appeared online before Tuesday, though they were unable to identify where it had been filmed, or whether it was authentic.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Voice of Burma outlet also reported troops had seized villagers who had been unable to flee following an attack on junta troops.

Sagaing region has seen regular clashes between junta troops and civilian militia.

Another Dontaw resident told AFP that the 11 had been "arrested while they were hiding" near a monastery on the west side of the village, and had been taken away by junta troops.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he was "deeply concerned by the reports of the horrific killing of 11 people... who were reportedly shot and burnt by the military."

"Credible reports indicate that five children were among those people killed."

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military seized power, with the economy in tatters and more than 1,300 people killed by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.

© Agence France-Presse

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