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17 killed in alleged military airstrikes near Indian border as civil strife continues – India TV

People clean the victims of airstrikes being shrouded in
Image Source : AP People clean the victims of airstrikes being shrouded in blankets at a building in Kanan village.

As the civil conflict in Myanmar deepens, airstrikes by the ruling military on a village under the control of pro-democracy resistance in the northwestern part of the country have killed at least 17 civilians and injured more than 20 others, including nine children, according to local residents and a human rights group. 

The airstrikes took place in Kanan village of Sagaing region’s Khampat town, just south of the Indian border. However, the military denied responsibility for the aerial attack on Sunday, claiming that it was false news spread by Khit Thit Media, an independent online news service sympathetic to the anti-military resistance. 

Myanmar is wracked by fighting between the military and rebel militias since the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in 2021. The military government in the past two years has stepped up airstrikes against the armed pro-democracy Peoples Defense Force, and ethnic minority guerrilla groups that have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades. The two groups sometimes carry out joint operations against the army.

Deliberate attack

A local resident who helped carry out rescue work told the Associated Press on Sunday that a jet fighter dropped three bombs on the village of Kanan, on the outskirts of Khampat, about 280 kilometres (170 miles) northwest of Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, killing 17 civilians who were in buildings near the village school.

About 10 houses near the school were destroyed by bombs during the assault, said the resident, ahead of a ceremony scheduled on Sunday to mark the completion of combat training for new members of the resistance forces at another school in the village.

Salai Mang Hre Lian, a program manager of the Chin Human Rights Organization, confirmed the number of victims and said that it was a deliberate attack by the military on the civilians and children at the school. “If the international community continues to allow war crimes to be committed like this, then they let themselves to be knowingly complicit in the violations of international humanitarian laws, including the Geneva Conventions and Rome Statues,” he added.

On the other hand, Myanmar’s state-controlled MRTV television in its night news broadcast cited an unnamed official from the area as saying there had been no plane flying in the area on Sunday morning. The military often accuses pro-democracy forces in the area of carrying out terrorist operations, but several analysts have gathered evidence of large-scale human rights abuses by the army.

Violence in Myanmar

The military stepped up airstrikes after an alliance of three ethnic minority armed groups, including the Arakan Army in October 27 launched a major offensive, seizing towns in the country’s northeast, along with major border crossings for trade with China. The resistance forces last week forced the army to give up the city of Laukkaing in northern Shan state near the Chinese border.

Amid the coordinated offensive, the Arakan Army also attacked outposts in its home state of Rakhine in the west, intensifying the conflict. The military, already grappling with a nationwide uprising led by the People’s Defence Forces—a pro-democracy armed group formed after the military coup in February 2021—found itself facing another formidable front.

Meanwhile, at least five people, including three teachers, were killed on Sunday in an airstrike on Namhsan township, which was captured last month by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, members of the Three Brotherhood Alliance that launched the October offensive.

Last year, thousands of people from Myanmar crossed into India after some ethnic minority insurgent groups attacked security posts in Myanmar, leading to a fresh fight erupting on two new fronts. The new combat was seen as another blow for the junta which is increasingly stretched amid mounting armed opposition, fuelled by anger over the coup and crackdown. 

Amid a surge in violence in Myanmar, India has released an advisory where it advised its nationals to refrain from visiting the country. Also, it advised Indians living in the war zone to fill out a form, detailing their names and other necessary details.

At least 151 Myanmar soldiers, who had crossed the Indian border and entered Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district on December 29, were airlifted by the Myanmar Air Force from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. The soldiers had fled their camps near the international border after facing an onslaught from fighters associated with the Arakan Army.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Myanmar resistance group shot down army helicopter in attempt to soaring conflict between junta, ethnic groups

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