Relatives were still discovering the charred bodies and limbs of victims murdered in a military bombing on a village in central Myanmar on Wednesday, one day after the junta seized power in a coup two years ago.
As he approached the location of the military bombing, an eyewitness who had hidden in a tunnel during the attack reported the sight of horror, with children dying, women wailing, and dead heaped on the ground.
The Kyunhla activist group, which was present, estimates that at least 100 people, including women and children, were killed after Myanmar’s military junta bombarded Kanbalu township in the central Sagaing district on Tuesday. According to the group, the strike left at least 50 adults injured and 20 children dead.
An eyewitness told the associated press on the condition of anonymity because he fears retaliation that around 300 people had gathered in Pazigyi Village early Tuesday morning to celebrate the opening of a local administration office. Families had traveled from neighboring villages for the occasion, which offered tea and food and coincided with the commencement of the Thingyan New Year celebrations.
The neighborhood, like much of Sagaing, is not under the administration of the military junta. As part of the anti-junta resistance, the new town office was opened under the authority of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) for the people.
“We didn’t have any warning,” one eyewitness claimed. “Most of the villagers were inside the event, so they didn’t notice the jet.”
A junta aircraft struck the area where the event was taking place shortly before 8 a.m., according to eyewitnesses and local media. According to the eyewitness, a Mi35 helicopter then circled and fired on the village minutes later.
“When I arrived on the scene, we tried to find people who were still alive,” he explained. “Everything was dreadful. People were dying while being transported on motorcycles. Children and women. Some people lost their heads, limbs, or hands. “I saw some flesh on the road.”
After the incident, the eyewitness stated he witnessed dozens of bodies, including children as young as five. He claimed to have lost four family members in the strike, including a little child from his community.
“I saw a lot of people coming onto the scene, crying and screaming, looking for their kids,” he claimed.
The junta jets returned at 5:30 p.m. and blasted the same location they had bombed that morning, he said.
The associated press is unable to independently confirm the occurrence, but the eyewitness account corresponds to claims in local media and from the NUG.
Witnesses and a local activist organization showed the associated press videos and photographs of the aftermath, which included people, some charred and in bits, as well as demolished buildings, vehicles, and trash.
Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the Myanmar junta, confirmed the airstrike on Pazigyi Village and said civilian casualties were caused by them being forced to aid “terrorists,” according to Reuters.
The junta has labeled the NUG and resistance groups in the country known as the People’s Defense Force as terrorists.
“At 8 a.m….. NUG (National Unity Government) and PDF (People’s Defense Force) held an opening ceremony for the public administration office in Pazigyi village,” Zaw Min Tun stated on the military’s Myawaddy TV channel.
“We had initiated an offensive against them. We were informed that PDF was killed during the attack on the occasion. They oppose our administration.”
The strike was widely denounced around the world, with one top UN official claiming that global indifference to the situation in Myanmar aided the attack.
“World indifference and those supplying them with weapons enable the Myanmar military’s attacks against innocent people, including today’s airstrike in Sagaing,” said Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar.
“How many Myanmar children must die before world leaders take decisive, coordinated action to put an end to this carnage?”
The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the airstrikes and urged the regime to “cease the horrific violence.”
“These violent attacks highlight the regime’s disregard for human life and its responsibility for the dire political and humanitarian crisis in Burma since the February 2021 coup,” it stated, referring to Myanmar by another name.
It has been just over two years since the military overthrew the democratically elected government and imprisoned its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. To suppress opposition, the junta regularly conducts airstrikes and ground attacks on “terrorist” sites.
Civilians, including children, have been killed in the attacks, which have targeted schools, clinics, hospitals, and other civilian facilities. According to local monitoring groups, junta forces have burned down entire towns and displaced thousands of civilians in the raids.
Every day, battles between the military and rebel groups erupted in Myanmar. These rebel factions, some of which have allied with long-established ethnic militias in the country, essentially rule portions of the country outside the reach of the junta.
Resistance groups and humanitarian organizations have regularly accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass executions, air attacks, and war crimes against civilians in conflict zones, claims the junta denies despite mounting proof.
“They’re losing power in the country.” They’re falling behind. “On the ground, things are much more unstable than they’ve ever been,” the UN’s Andrews told the associated press on Wednesday. “As a result, they’re using air power more and more, and as a result, more and more civilians are being killed.”
According to local media outlets Myanmar Now and The Irrawaddy, junta warplanes on Monday struck a town in western Chin state’s Falam Township, dropping bombs on a school and killing nine people.
To escape conflict in Myawaddy township, 8,000 refugees from the southern Karen state crossed the border into Thailand last week, according to a statement from Thailand’s Tak provincial office public relations department posted on Facebook.
At least 22 people—three of them monks—were slain in March at a monastery in the southern Shan state. And in September, at least 13 people, including seven children, were murdered in a military airstrike on a school in Sagaing.
Witness to the incident on Tuesday claimed that “the situation in Myanmar is worse now.”
Like dogs or cows, people are dying. We don’t own any weaponry comparable to those the military is equipped with. The world community must assist us, he continued.