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    Burnt bodies of more than 30 people found in burnt vehicles in Myanmar, military crackdown alleges


    The bodies of more than 30 people, including women and children, were found in a burning vehicle in Myanmar on Saturday, a rebel group and a monitor said, blaming the junta for the attack. More than 1,300 people have been killed in security operations in Myanmar since the February coup, according to a local watchdog group.

    The “People’s Defense Forces” (PDF) have risen across the country to fight the junta, and have led the military to a bloody stalemate of conflict and retaliation. On Saturday, photos were seen on social media showing two burnt trucks. A car on a highway in the town of Hepruso, in the state of East Kayah, remains cremated inside.

    A member of a local PDF group said their fighters found the vehicles on Saturday morning after the military stopped several vehicles at Hpruso after a clash with its fighters near Friday. “This morning we went to check the area and saw the burnt bodies in two trucks. We have found 27 bodies, “he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Another eyewitness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “We have found 26 skulls.” However, there were other bodies in the truck that had been burned to the ground so we could not count them.

    The Myanmar Witness Monitor said it had confirmed local media reports and eyewitness accounts from local fighters that “35 people, including women and children, were burned to death by the army on December 24 in Hepraso Township.”

    Satellite data also showed that Hpruso caught fire around 1:00 pm (0630 GMT) on Friday night, it added.

    AFP could not confirm the reports, but AFP Digital Verification reporters said the images were not seen online before Friday evening to show the incident.

    Myanmar’s military has denied the allegations.

    A spokesman for the junta said clashes broke out in Hpruso on Friday after its troops tried to stop seven vehicles driving in “suspicious ways”.

    Without giving details, spokesman Zhao Min Tun told AFP that troops had killed several people in the following clashes. PDF groups have surprised the military with their effectiveness, analysts say, as they struggle to break resistance against military rule.

    Earlier this month, the United States said it was “outraged by credible and disturbing reports” that Myanmar troops had captured 11 villagers, including children, in the Sagaing area and burned them alive. Win Mayat Aye, a member of a group of deposed lawmakers, condemned the atrocities. “It’s a cruel gift from the military to our people on Christmas Day,” he said.

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