Myanmar junta confirms carrying out airstrikes that killed dozens
(Update 1: Adds details throughout, changes head, lede, minor edits)
Bangkok, Apr 12 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military junta confirmed it carried out airstrikes on a village ceremony that left dozens dead in one of the worst massacres since the 2021 coup, and which sparked outrage from the international community.
On Tuesday morning the Myanmar Air Force bombed an inauguration ceremony for an administrative office linked to the opposition shadow National Unity Government (NUG) and its armed People’s Defense Force (PDF), a movement formed mostly by young people after the Feb. 1, 2021 coup, in the Sagaing region town of Pazigyi.
“During that opening ceremony, we conducted the attack. PDF members were killed. They are the ones opposing the government of the country, the people of the country,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told military-owned Myawaddy TV late Tuesday.
“Some people who were forced to support them probably died as well.”
The number of casualties is still unclear, but a NUG spokesman told EFE that at least 50 people had died, while some sources report that over 100 may have been killed, including dozens of women, children and elderly civilians who were there to receive food at the ceremony that coincided with the start of Thingyan New Year celebrations.
According to the same spokesman, fighters returned to bomb the town in rebel-held territory as volunteers searched for survivors among the rubble and removed lifeless bodies.
The NUG, made up of former lawmakers from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, called the attack a “heinous act.”
“We … share the great pain felt by the families affected by this tragedy,” it said in a statement.
The international community, including the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, also condemned the airstrikes.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “those responsible to be held accountable” and reiterated “his call for the military to end the campaign of violence against the Myanmar population throughout the country,” his spokesperson said.
UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, wrote on Twitter that “the Myanmar military’s attacks against innocent people, including [the] airstrike in Sagaing, is enabled by world indifference and those supplying them with weapons. How many Myanmar children need to die before world leaders take strong, coordinated action to stop this carnage?”
Vedant Patel, US state department spokesman, said in a statement that “these violent attacks further underscore the regime’s disregard for human life and its responsibility for the dire political and humanitarian crisis in Burma following the February 2021 coup.”
Patel also called on the military junta to “cease the horrific violence, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and to respect the genuine and inclusive democratic aspirations of the people of Burma.”
Andrews denounced in March that more than 3,000 civilians have been killed, 1.3 million have had to flee their homes and 16,000 have become political prisoners since the coup, including Suu Kyi. EFE