Families were still discovering the charred bodies and limbs of victims murdered in a military bombing on a village in central Burma 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 a sight of horror, with children dying, women wailing, and dead heaped on the ground.
According to the Kyunhla activist group, which was there at the scene, at least 100 people were killed after Myanmar’s military junta attacked Kanbalu township in the central Sagaing area on Tuesday. According to the group, at least 20 children were killed and 50 people were injured during the strike.
An eyewitness told CNN on the condition of anonymity because he fears retaliation that some 300 people had gathered in Pazigyi Village early Tuesday morning to celebrate the opening of a local administration office. Family had traveled from neighbouring villages for the gathering, which included tea and food and coincided with the beginning 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.
“There was no warning,” the eyewitness stated. “Since most of the villagers were inside the event, they were unaware of the plane.” According to eyewitnesses and local media, a junta aircraft struck the village where the ceremony was taking place shortly before 8 a.m. According to the witnesses, a Mi35 helicopter then circled and fired on the village minutes later. “When I arrived at the scene, we sought to find persons who were still alive,” he explained. “It was awful. Persons were dying (while being transported) on motorcycles. There are children and women. Several people lost their heads, limbs, and hands. “I noticed some flesh on the road.”
During 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 observed a lot of people come onto the scene, crying and yelling, 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.
According to Reuters, Myanmar’s junta spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun confirmed the airstrike on Pazigyi Village and stated that civilian casualties occurred as a result of being forced to assist “terrorists.”
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 were killed during the attack at 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 apathy and those supplying them with weapons enable the Myanmar military’s crimes against innocent people, including today’s airstrike in Sagaing,” said Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma.
“How more Myanmar children must die before world leaders take decisive, concerted action to put an end to this carnage?”
The US State Department expressed “grave concern” about the bombing and urged the regime to “stop the horrible violence.”
“These savage acts highlight the regime’s contempt for human life and its responsibility for the terrible political and humanitarian catastrophe 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. In order 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 erupt in Burma. 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.
Opposition 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 far more unstable than they’ve ever been,” the UN’s Andrews told CNN on Wednesday. “As a result, they’re employing air power more and more, and as a result, more and more civilians are being murdered.”
According to local media Burma Today and The Irrawaddy, junta aircraft targeted a community in western Chin state’s Falam Township on Monday, killing nine people when bombs were dropped on a school.
According to a Facebook post from Thailand’s Tak provincial office public relations department, 8,000 refugees in southern Karen state fled across the border to Thailand last week to escape conflict in Myawaddy township.
At least 22 people were killed at a monastery in southern Shan state in March, including three monks. In September, a military airstrike on a school in Sagaing killed at least 13 people, including seven children.
According to an eyewitness to the incident on Tuesday, the “situation in Burma is worse now.”
“People are dying as if they were dogs or cows. We don’t have any weaponry that can compete with the military’s arsenal. “We need the international community’s assistance,” he stated.