Myanmar ethnic group pledges to investigate alleged killing of 25 labourers

YANGON (REUTERS) – A Myanmar ethnic political group that has been fighting the army in the east of the country has pledged to investigate allegations by the junta that its forces killed 25 construction workers after abducting a group of 47 people last month.

Ethnic conflicts in Myanmar’s borderlands have flared since a military coup on Feb 1, and this week, media controlled by the junta reported that fighters belonging to the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO) had committed the atrocity.

The Karen National Union, the political wing of the KNDO militia, issued its response to the allegations in a letter dated Wednesday (June 16).

“The Karen National Union follows the Geneva Convention, which doesn’t accept killing civilians during armed fighting,” the KNU said, adding that it “will be forming a team to conduct an investigation to reveal the truth and will announce the result”.

The KNU and its armed wing have been fighting for greater autonomy for the Karen people since 1947, and is among the groups that have opposed the military takeover.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper and army-controlled Myawaddy Television this week showed pictures of what appeared to be 25 dead bodies laid in a forest clearing.

They said the men had been working on the Uhu Creek Bridge in Myawaddy District, near the border with Thailand, and were abducted from the construction site on May 31 in a group that also included 10 children and six women.

The Global New Light of Myanmar reported seven bodies were found on June 11, one burnt and the others with hands tied behind their backs. It said the other 18 bodies were found on June 12.

A video shared on social media that purports to record one of the killings shows a bound man being repeatedly stabbed before his throat is slit and his body mutilated.

Some voices in the Karen language can be heard calling for the executioner to stop while others cheer him on.

Reuters has not verified this video.

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