Dozens killed in Tatmadaw bombing of Myanmar rebel govt event
(Update: add details, raises death toll)
Bangkok, Apr 11 (EFE).- Dozens of people have been killed in bombings by the Myanmar army on Tuesday at a National Unity Government event being held in the northwest region of Sagaing.
The NUG, a government in exile made up of a group of elected lawmakers and deputies who were ousted by the 2021 military coup, confirmed the “mass killing of innocent civilians” in a statement.
The Burmese armed forces (the Tatmadaw) bombed a ceremony to inaugurate an administrative office linked to the NUG in the town of Pazigyi in Sagaing – one of the main rebel strongholds in the country – on Tuesday morning, a NUG spokesman said.
Jet fighters then carried out another attack in the afternoon in the area during rescue work, he added.
“They were holding an opening ceremony and, following tradition, they were serving food to the people, so the event had attracted a lot of children,” said the NUG spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous, adding that the death toll, initially estimated to be at least 50, could be far higher.
A statement released by the NUG Ministry of Labour on social media said the bombing caused “the loss of many innocent lives and injured many more, including children and pregnant women”, describing the attack as “a war crime”.
The ministry said on Twitter that the death toll was around 100, while the independent The Irrawaddy newspaper says the number could be even higher, with witnesses saying the event was attended by more than 150 people.
The attack is one of the deadliest since the coup in February 2021, which abruptly ended a decade of democratic transition and plunged the country into a spiral of violence and anarchy, with the military controlling barely a quarter of the nation.
The NUG spokesman compared the severity of the attack with an air strike in October targeting a music festival in the north of the country to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the Kachin Independence Organization, an incident which he said killed 80 people.
During a military parade for Armed Forces Day on Mar. 27, the junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said he would quell the resistance, targeting in particular the NUG and its armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces.
The NUG, which operates semi-clandestinely, was partly formed by former parliamentarians in Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted government, while the defense forces emerged shortly after, mostly comprising young people who joined the armed struggle. They were trained by the ethnic minority guerrillas that have operated in the country for decades.
Violence by the armed forces has escalated in recent weeks. At least eight people died in late March, including two children, after a bombardment in the state of Chin, while two weeks earlier some 30 were killed near the capital.
Thomas Andrews, the United Nations rapporteur for Myanmar, said in March that more than 3,000 civilians had been killed, 1.3 million have had to flee their homes and 16,000 have become political prisoners since the coup. EFE