Soldiers from the Burmese army detained and then summarily executed an unarmed 60 year old farmer near the Kachin State border with China on Thursday January 12, as fleeing refugees looked on.
Yei Son, an ethnic Chinese sugar cane farmer was detained by Burmese soldiers as he was walking from his farm just outside of Loije. More than 4,000 people fled Loije yesterday as a large number of Burmese troops moved into reinforce the government's occupation of the town.
According to local residents Yei Son was from Kawng Nan village, also known as Section (Ward) No. 7 of Loije which is in the Manmaw (Bhamo) district of eastern Kachin State.
In addition to executing Yei Son yesterday, Burmese soldiers in Loije also set fire to several motorbikes and a sugar cane field. More than 4,000 residents are thought to have fled Loije yesterday to avoid the Burmese army in the midst of a violent offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization. The town the refugees left behind is largely empty of any civilians. Fighting was the fiercest on Loije's outskirts where Burmese troops traded gunfire with members of the Kachin resistance for much of the day.
The bulk of the Loije's evacuated population has crossed into China, with most people living in temporary refugee camps, according to sources on the ground.
On December 25, Maran Zau Ja, a 47-year old unarmed Kachin man was shot and killed Burmese soldiers as he was walking to Gawkngu Bum hill near Loije, according to eyewitnesses. He is believed to have been killed by soldiers from Shwenyaungpyin-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 321 commanded by Lt-Col Zaw Myo Htut.
Reports of government troops committing summary executions are common in rural Burmese conflict areas. A recent report by Human Rights Watch documented numerous incidents of forced labour, rape and unlawful killings committed by the Burmese army in Kachin and parts of Shan state in its campaign against the KIO.
Burma's nominally civilian government led by ex-general President Thein Sein launched an aggressive offensive against the KIO last June ending a 17-year ceasefire with Burma's second largest armed ethnic rebel group.