At least seven civilians were killed in three separate shootings involving the military or anti-junta forces in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon on Thursday evening, according to witnesses.
The incidents took place in Yangon’s Pabedan and southern Dagon Myothit townships and left six men and a woman dead, sources told RFA Burmese.
In one of the shootings, a rickshaw driver and two young men were killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a junta soldier on duty near the Maha Thein Dawgyi Ordination Hall in Pabedan at around 3:30 p.m., according to a resident of the township, who declined to be named for security reasons.
“[The soldier] was shot near a betel nut stall on a side street near Ordination Hall. I didn’t hear anything for a while, and then a [military truck] arrived on the scene. The soldiers were yelling and cursing,” the resident said.
“Then I heard [around 10] gunshots continuously. The rickshaw man and two other young men who were hit died on the spot. I feel sad that these men were shot for no fault of their own.”
The resident said the bodies of the three victims were taken away by a Red Cross ambulance around 30 minutes later.
Other residents of Pabedan told RFA that authorities closed Maha Bandoola and Sule Pagoda roads, which run through the center of the township, following the shooting, but reopened them this morning. Meanwhile, the security force presence inside the Maha Thein Dawgyi Ordination Hall has been doubled, they said.
Posts on a Telegram social media network channel used by junta supporters said the two young men had “carried out an attack” on the soldier at the betel nut stall and were killed when security forces returned fire.
However, a spokesman for an anti-junta armed group known as the Yangon UG Association rejected the claims.
“We will attack and flee with motorcycles or cars. We will even attack on foot and run when we have an escape route. But it doesn’t make sense to attack [a military post] with a rickshaw,” said the spokesman.
“[The military] might be trying to protect themselves. Or they might just be lying to cover up the act. These urban guerrillas are young people in an age of globalization, they aren’t morons. Everyone knows you can’t launch an attack from a rickshaw.”
The spokesman added that urban guerrillas don’t carry weapons in Yangon because junta troops carry out strict security checks in the city.
Southern Dagon Myothit shootings
Also on Thursday, a resident of southern Dagon Myothit’s Ward 53 said junta soldiers shot and killed a man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s inside their home.
“When we found them, they were already dead. The man had gunshot wounds on his chest and stomach,” the resident said.
“They were shot in their own house. When we checked with people nearby, they said the two who had been killed were peaceful people. We don’t know exactly who shot them.”
Later the same night, the anti-junta South Dagon Urban Guerrilla Group said that its members had killed the deputy administrator of Ward 71 and an office worker from Ward 25’s General Administration Department, who it claimed were military informers.
RFA was unable to independently confirm the killings in southern Dagon Myothit township.
The military has yet to release any information about the killings, and further details about the incidents were not immediately available.
Nan Lin, a member of the Yangon-based anti-junta group University Old Students’ Association, told RFA that urban guerrilla units have attacked bunkers, police posts and local administration offices, leaving authorities on edge and ready to fire at anything they deem suspicious.
“More and more people have lost their lives because of the military’s indiscriminate shootings,” he said.
“Urban guerrilla forces are staging all kinds of different attacks. Because of this, the soldiers feel they aren’t safe anywhere,” Nan Lin said. “There are quite a lot of cases now where [troops] open fire at anything suspicious, sometimes even at their own people.”
In Yangon, authorities are regularly arresting people at their homes during checks of guest lists and shooting at anyone they suspect of being members of anti-junta groups, residents told RFA.
According to Thailand’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), authorities have killed at least 2,327 civilians and arrested 15,691 others in the nearly 20 months since Myanmar’s military seized power in a Feb 1, 2021, coup — mostly during peaceful anti-junta protests.
Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.