According to the unity government, troops were conducting a “clearance operation” in the township, a brutal method that the military has often used to drive residents from an area, including during the 2017 campaign against Rohingya Muslims that has been widely characterized as ethnic cleansing. In such operations, villagers are often killed indiscriminately and their homes burned.
On Friday, according to the National Unity Government, troops blocked the road outside Moso, trapped residents who were fleeing in cars and tractors, bound them and burned them alive, in what the shadow government called a “Christmas massacre.”
Understanding the Coup in Myanmar
Four members of the junta’s border guard force, who were in the area, tried to intervene and negotiate the release of the villagers, but the soldiers shot and killed them, according to the unity government and the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force, one of the armed groups operating in Kayah State.
The border guards’ bodies were not among those burned, said Gway Ba Yar, a spokesman for the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force, who said that he had gone to the scene and whose photographs have been widely distributed. His pictures show four dead men in border guard uniforms with their hands tied behind their backs.
Ba Nya, a spokesman for the Karenni Human Rights Group, who said that he had also visited the scene, said he believed that several children, including an infant, were among those killed, based on the children’s clothing he said had been strewn on the road.
“This is a brutal war crime committed by the Myanmar military,” Mr. Ba Nya said.
The unity government, known as the N.U.G., has accused the junta of using “extreme terror tactics” against civilians. This month, it said, soldiers burned alive at least 11 people, including five children, in the Sagaing region, an area in northwestern Myanmar where many residents have mounted an armed resistance to the coup.
“As the world celebrates Christmas and its message of peace, the N.U.G. repeats its demands on the international community to act immediately and decisively to end the military junta’s escalating war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Myanmar people,” the group said.