Tags: myanmar fighting airstrikes resistance

Buddhist Monk and a Child Reported among Almost a Dozen Civilians Killed in Myanmar Airstrikes

Thursday, 29 June 2023 01:00 PM EDT

BANGKOK (AP) — Airstrikes by Myanmar’s military on two villages in the country’s north-central region this week killed nearly a dozen civilians, including a Buddhist monk and a child, according to villagers and the head of a local pro-democracy group on Thursday.

Tuesday’s attacks on Nyaung Kone and Kyarsi villages in Pale township in Sagaing region, also wounded about a dozen people, they said.

Sagaing is a stronghold of armed resistance to the ruling military, which seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021.

The takeover was met with peaceful demonstrations that were later put down by the security forces with lethal force. Many opponents of military rule then took up arms, and large parts of the country are now struggling with armed conflict that some U.N. experts have called a civil war.

The military-installed government has been conducting major offensives in the countryside, including Sagaing, to try to secure territory by burning villages and carrying out airstrikes. The resistance forces have no defense against air attacks.

In September, the army carried out an air attack on a school in Let Yet Kone village in Sagaing’s Tabayin township that killed at least seven children.

In April, the military dropped a bomb that Human Rights Watch charged was an “enhanced blast” munition known as a fuel-air explosive, in an attack on Sagaing’s Pazigyi village that killed more than 160 people, including many children. The attack was carried out on a ceremony for the opening of a local office of the self-styled National Unity Government, the main nationwide opposition organization that considers itself to be Myanmar’s legitimate administrative body.

In both those cases, the military government claimed that the members of the pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces, the armed wing of the National Unity Government, were their targets.

In the latest deadly aerial attacks, a fighter jet dropped three bombs on Nyaung Kone village’s Buddhist monastery and nearby houses at about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, said one of its residents, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal from government forces.

Nyaung Kone village, which has more than 230 houses and 1,600 residents, is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city.

The villager said that a 55-year-old Buddhist monk and eight civilians, including two women, were killed on the spot, and a 16-year-old girl, who was his niece, died later that day. He said he was taking shelter under a table at his house about 275 meters (300 yards) from the monastery when the attack took place.

He said he initially thought the “whoosh” of the jet approaching was just the sound of strong wind, and only after a bomb was dropped did he realize the village was being attacked. He said that residents were puzzled as to why the military attacked, because there had been no recent clashes nearby, which otherwise might have provoked retaliation from the security forces.

Another resident who also spoke on condition of anonymity said that the monk was killed together with his relatives at the house near the monastery. He said that 14 buildings, including two at the monastery, were destroyed and about a dozen villagers, among them children, were wounded.

Photos of the devastation that circulated on social media were said to show a damaged monastery building and the bodies of a monk and another person among the debris. Their veracity couldn't immediately be independently confirmed.

Zaw Htet, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party and a leader of Pale township People’s Administration group established by the National Unity Government, said that a woman was killed and another woman was wounded after the fighter jet that dropped bombs on Nyaung Kone village bombed Kyarsi village about 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the northwest.

“The army treats the civilians as targets and attacks them,” Zaw Htet said by phone. “People need to be more aware of the military’s airstrikes and build bombproof shelters.”

He said that locals believed the plane attacked the villages after the army received false information from its informants that local resistance fighters were staying or holding meetings in the monastery and the other targeted buildings.

Zaw Htet and the villagers also said there had been no clashes near Kyarsi in recent months.

Nay Phone Latt, a spokesperson for the National Unity Government, told The Associated Press that Tuesday’s airstrikes targeting civilians constituted yet another war crime by the military. The military government denies committing human rights violations and says that it acts with proportional force against the armed resistance forces it's fighting.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Airstrikes by Myanmar's military on two villages in the country's northcentral region this week killed nearly a dozen civilians, including a Buddhist monk and a child, according to villagers and the head of a local prodemocracy group on Thursday.Tuesday's attacks on Nyaung...
myanmar fighting airstrikes resistance
Thursday, 29 June 2023 01:00 PM
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