Myanmar: Junta Air Strike Kills Dozens, Rebel Group Says

Myanmar: Junta Air Strike Kills Dozens, Rebel Group Says
Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

What you need to know

The Kachin Independence Organization says the Myanmar military carried out air strikes on a concert to celebrate the group's founding. The attacks reportedly killed some 80 people, including musicians and civilians.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of carrying out air strikes against a rebel ethnic group late Sunday, with media and opposition groups reporting at least 80 dead by Monday.

State television made no mention of the attack on Monday, but the military regime’s information office said in a statement that there was an attack at the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army’s 9th Brigade.

The government said it was a “necessary operation” in response to “terrorist” acts carried out by the Kachin ethnic rebel group.

Members of the ethnic rebel group said around 80 people had died during attacks, and dozens others were injured.

Dozens dead during a concert in the region

Opposition groups and media reported earlier Monday that at least 50 people died after the northern state of Kachin was hit by air strikes. The death toll was later revised to 80.

Those killed included civilians, local musicians, and officers of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

The strikes took place during a concert Sunday evening, during the first of three-day celebrations to mark the KIO’s founding.

A spokesperson for the Kachin Artists Association told the Associated Press that 300-500 people were in attdenance, and 100 people were likely injured as a result of the air strikes.

The military regime on Monday denied reports of a high death toll, citing them as “rumors.” It also denied bombing a concert and reports that singers and civilians were among those who died. 

UN, Western powers slams air strikes

The United Nations’ office in Myanmar said in a statement it was “deeply concerned and saddened” by reports of air strikes.

“What would appear to be excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians is unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account,” it said.

The heads of diplomatic missions in Myanmar, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, condemned the attack on Monday too,

They said the attack “underscores the military regime’s responsibility for crisis and instability… and its disregard for its obligation to protect civilians.”

The air strikes comes three days before the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN bloc, are due to meet in Indonesia to discuss the Myanmar crisis.

What is happening in Myanmar?

Myanmar has been trapped in a cycle of violence since the army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in February 2021.

The military junta has since cracked down on any opposition to its rule and has arrested demonstrators, jailed journalists, and executed pro-democracy activists.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an anti-junta human rights group, says that more than 2,000 people have been killed by military officials so far.

In turn, opposition activists have been organizing mass protests, while ethnic armed organizations have come together to fight the junta’s rule.

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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