At least 22 people, including three monks, were killed at a monastery in Myanmar’s Southern Shan State on Saturday as local insurgent groups and the military-backed junta accused each other of carrying out a massacre.
Myanmar has been mired in political violence since military leader Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a 2021 coup that upturned any hope the Southeast Asian nation of 55 million people would become a functioning democracy.
The coup was followed by a brutal military crackdown against pro-democracy protesters that saw civilians shot in the street, abducted in nighttime raids and allegedly tortured in detention.
Since the coup, at least 2,900 people in Myanmar have been killed by junta troops and over 17,500 arrested, the majority of whom are still in detention, according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The coup has also resulted in a surge in fighting between the military and a raft of resistance groups allied with long-established ethnic militias in a country that has been plagued for decades by insurgencies.
Resistance groups have repeatedly accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings, air strikes and war crimes against civilians in the regions where fighting has raged, charges the junta repeatedly denies – despite a growing body of evidence.
Photos and a video taken of the incident, provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and verified by CNN, showed at least 21 bodies piled up around the Nan Nein Monastery, located in the village of Nan Nein in Pinlaung Township.
Many were seen wearing civilian clothes and had multiple gunshot wounds. Among them were also three bodies dressed in saffron orange robes, traditionally worn by Buddhist monks.