Eight civilians killed in military bombing

AIRSTRIKES by Myanmar’s military on a village in the country’s northwest killed at least eight civilians, including two children, according to members of a rebel ethnic minority group and independent media reports.

Thursday’s attack on Khuafo village, just north of Thantlang, a major town in Chin State near the Indian border, also wounded 20 people, they said.

It came three days after Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the head of Myanmar’s ruling military council, said in a speech for Armed Forces Day that the military needs to take decisive action against the forces challenging its control.

The country’s independent online media reported the aerial bombardment, but there were no immediate reports about it in the state-controlled media.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, triggering widespread popular opposition.

After peaceful protests were put down with lethal force, many opponents of military rule took up arms, and large parts of the country are now embroiled in conflict.

The pro-democracy resistance that arose allied itself with several ethnic minorities, including the Chin, that have been carrying out an armed struggle for decades seeking greater autonomy.

The junta has sought to suppress such opposition with air and artillery strikes, with civilians often the victims. More than a million people have been displaced by the army’s offensives since the takeover.

Salai Htet Ni, a spokesperson for the Chin National Front, an ethnic rebel group closely linked to the pro-democracy movement, said two jet fighters dropped four bombs on Khuafo village, killing a group of civilians, including two children.

Many of the more than 60 houses in the village were destroyed by fire, he said.

Another member of the group who is staying at its camp in Thantlang said an Mi-35 helicopter fired a machine gun at the village as the jet fighters were dropping bombs.

According to a list of the dead he received, five were female and three male, and they ranged in age from six to 40. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals from the military.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an exile group that monitors human rights in Myanmar, at least 3,182 civilians have been killed by the security forces since the army seized power. — AP

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