Myanmar police to DNA test soldiers over murdered teachers

People attend a funeral service of two school teachers in Myitkyina, northern Myanmar, on January 23, 2015 (AFP Photo/Hkut Lat)

Myanmar police Thursday said they will conduct DNA tests on soldiers and residents in a northern village where two young teachers were murdered in a crime that has sparked widespread public anger.

Broadly circulated images of the battered bodies of the two women, aged 20 and 21, have stirred outage in Shan and neighbouring Kachin state, with activists claiming the pair were raped and killed by military troops.

Last week thousands of mourners attended funerals for the teachers in Myitkyina, the state capital of war-torn Kachin, as the government promised an inquiry into the deaths.

"We have collected hair samples of 25 soldiers who were on duty that night as well as from 10 villagers," lieutenant San Lwin of Shan state police force told AFP.

The samples have been sent to the capital Naypyidaw for DNA testing to check against strands of hair found in the hands of both the deceased women, he added.

Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin, 21, were volunteer teachers at IDP camps near the border town of Muse in Shan, parts of which have also been wracked by conflict between Myanmar's army and ethnic minority rebels in recent years.

They had suffered stab wounds and head injuries, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported last Friday.

Earlier this week a police officer from Muse police station told AFP that officers believed at least two people committed the crime.

Myanmar has been wracked by sporadic civil wars across its ethnic minority borderlands for more than half a century.

The long-standing unrest has left a legacy of entrenched mistrust of the army, which has been accused of committing serious abuses with impunity.

The opposition National League for Democracy party, the United States and the United Nations have all called for an impartial investigation.

Myanmar has promised that any involvement by army troops -- if proved -- would not go unpunished.