Conflicts & War

Myanmar military accused of war crimes using vapor-cloud explosives on civilians

Bangkok, May 9 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch Tuesday accused Myanmar’s military of committing a possible war crime by using a vapor-cloud explosive in an attack that killed over 160 people, including children.

The attack took place on Apr.11 when Myanmar’s military bombed a ceremony held by opponents of army rule in Pazigyi village in Sagaing region’s Kanbalu township.

The global rights group confirmed the use of the prohibited munition after reviewing photos of the victims’ bodies and a video of the site.

“The Myanmar military’s use of a weapon designed to cause maximum deaths on an area crowded with civilians shows flagrant disregard for human life,” said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Foreign governments need to cut off the junta’s funding, arms, and jet fuel to deter further atrocities.”

The rights group said the initial strike was conducted with a large, air-dropped “enhanced-blast” type munition called “thermobaric” or a “vapor-cloud explosive.”

The enhanced-blast weapons can be used in several ways, but they generally disperse explosives as a vapor cloud that uses atmospheric oxygen as a fuel when detonated.

The rights group said the scale of the blast and thermal damage to the building, and the profound nature of the burns and evident soft-tissue and crushing injuries suffered by the victims were “distinctive.”

Enhanced-blast weapons are more powerful than conventional high-explosive munitions of comparable size and inflict extensive damage over a wide area.

Russia has been accused of using such type of explosives in the Ukraine invasion and the Chechnya war.

The United States used them against Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.

Although the Geneva Convention does not directly mention this type of weapon, its indiscriminate nature means that it is considered prohibited by humanitarian groups.

According to the UN, the Myanmar armed forces have killed at least 3,400 people since the coup on Feb.1, 2021.

The military takeover ended a decade of democratic transition and exacerbated the decades-long armed conflict between the army and various ethnic guerrillas in Myanmar. EFE


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