RANGOON — Two Burmese Army officers were reportedly murdered on Tuesday near the Sino-Burmese border in Namkham Township, northern Shan State, where government troops have clashed in recent months with ethnic armed rebel groups.
The officers from Infantry Division 88, one a commanding officer named Win Thura Tun and another a warrant officer, were murdered outside of Noung Madar village by unknown armed men, according to border sources.
Saw Hla, a member of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party in Namkham, told The Irrawaddy that the bodies of the two men were found at about 10 am on Tuesday. The commanding officer was shot three times and also showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head.
The two victims were reportedly returning to their base in the village on a motorbike, after a trip to the town market in Namkham.
“They [police] are still investigating,” Saw Hla said. “They detained five people yesterday [Tuesday] from Noung Madar village, including the village head, and interrogated them. The people have not been released yet.”
The bodies of the two victims were found by local villagers outside of Noung Madar beside an infrequently trafficked road dividing corn and sugar cane fields.
The police station in Namkham refused to comment when asked by The Irrawaddy about the deaths.
Sai Aom Mong, a resident in Namkham, said Infantry Division 88 had threatened to burn down the village if local residents did not help investigators to track down the killers.
“They beat those detainees and asked who were the killers,” Sai Aom Mong said. “They released the detainees at midnight, but they called them back in again this morning. They have threatened to burn down the village if they aren’t able to find out who the killers are.”
“We do not know what the case with their murders is,” Saw Hla said. “It could be a business case or there are many armed groups around here, such as Palaung [Ta’ang], Kachin and Shan, and even a militia group. No one knows yet who killed them.”
Since April, the Burmese Army has clashed periodically with armed rebels in Namkham Townships and neighboring Kachin State, where the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) operate. Thousands of civilians have been displaced by the violence.