Airstrikes in Myanmar claim lives of 17, including 9 children, amid ongoing conflict

Myanmar’s military launched morning airstrikes on Kanan village, located in the Sagaing region’s Khampat town, resulting in the death of at least 17 civilians, including nine children, as...

Myanmar’s military launched morning airstrikes on Kanan village, located in the Sagaing region’s Khampat town, resulting in the death of at least 17 civilians, including nine children, as reported on Sunday.

The strikes, just south of the Indian border, also left over 20 people wounded. The violence unfolds against the backdrop of Myanmar’s persistent turmoil since the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Responding to the forceful suppression of peaceful demonstrations, many anti-military activists took up arms, plunging substantial parts of the nation into conflict.

The air attack on Kanan village was reported by the country’s independent online media and the BBC’s Myanmar-language service. However, the military government denied responsibility, dismissing it as false news propagated by Khit Thit Media, an independent online news service aligned with the anti-military resistance.

Sagaing region, particularly near the border with India, has emerged as a stronghold of armed opposition to the army. Over the past few months, a coalition of resistance forces and the Kachin Independence Army, a formidable ethnic rebel group, has seized control of a district capital and two small towns, including Khampat.

A local resident involved in rescue efforts revealed that a jet fighter dropped three bombs on Kanan village, situated on the outskirts of Khampat, causing the demise of 17 civilians who were in buildings near the village school. The resident, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to fear of military reprisals, mentioned the destruction of approximately 10 houses near the school.

Khampat town predominantly comprises residents from the Chin ethnic minority, the majority of whom are Christians, predominantly Baptist. In contrast, Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist, with the Burman majority leading the nation. The ruling military’s affiliation with a nationalistic strain of Buddhism has intensified hostilities towards non-Burman and non-Buddhist populations, particularly evident in the border areas where much of the ongoing conflict is concentrated.

In response to the ongoing atrocities, the National Unity Government (NUG) released a statement revealing alarming statistics of the unlawful military coup in 2021 until December 2023, the NUG documented the deaths of 627 underage children and 1017 women.

The data disclosed 583 instances of air attacks on civilians, resulting in 897 fatalities and 958 injuries. Additionally, 76 religious buildings and 52 schools were destroyed during this period. The statement pointed out the Myanmar military’s heavy losses on various fronts, including projects, the military itself, and diplomacy, leading them to resort to increasingly targeting civilians with disproportionately powerful weapons.

As the conflict escalates, the UN High Commissioner has urgently called upon the Security Council to designate Myanmar’s military’s widespread and systematic attacks on civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity, urging referral to the International Criminal Court.

Additionally, the NUG has urged United Nations member states to collectively take decisive action against the military council, aligning with Security Council Resolution 2669, and has called for collaborative efforts to prosecute the Myanmar military using the universal jurisdiction mechanism.

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