New Delhi: As many as 100 people, including many children, were killed in an air raid by Myanmar’s military in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) citing a witness of a local pro-democracy group and independent media.
The attack occurred on Tuesday morning around 8 am during the ceremony held to mark the opening of a People’s Administration Team office in Pa Zi Gyi village, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed, as reported by malaymail. He said some of the dead were anti-coup fighters in uniform while acknowledging “there could be some people with civilian clothes.”
Sagaing region — near the country’s second-largest city, Mandalay — has put up some of the fiercest resistance to the military’s rule, with intense fighting raging there for months.
“According to the ground information we got, people were killed not because of our attack only. There were some mines planted by PDF around that area,” malaymail quoted him saying, adding the airstrike had also hit a storage area for gunpowder and mines.
However, The Irrawaddy reported that 50 civilians including children were killed and 30 injured. Meanwhile, Myanmar Now, a News agency stated that the airstrike killed 80 people.
Reacting to the incident, UN rights chief Volker Turk said on Tuesday he was “horrified” by the deadly air strikes, whose victims he said included schoolchildren performing dances, with the global body calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.
It was the junta’s deadliest attack since seizing power in 2021. As resistance forces have become better armed, the military has doubled down on its strategy of carrying out air raids and targeting civilians.
Photos from the village being shared on social media showed more than a dozen burned and mutilated bodies, while videos showed a destroyed building, burned motorcycles and debris scattered over a wide area. Rescuers at the scene confirmed the authenticity of the images with The New York Times.
The apparent target of the attack was a celebration to mark the local resistance movement’s opening of an administration office. Only the charred frame of the building remained standing after the air raid, a video and photos showed.
Myanmar’s military, which has battled armed ethnic groups for territorial control since soon after independence in 1948, has a long history of brutal attacks on civilians.
Since the coup, pro-democracy forces have united with some armed ethnic groups in a national campaign to oust the military from power, creating the most unified resistance movement the military has faced.