Airstrikes carried out by Myanmar’s military on a civilian crowd have sparked widespread condemnation.
The initial death toll stood at 53 from Tuesday’s attacks on a village ceremony in Sagaing region at which women and children were present, but later tallies reported by independent media raised it to 170.
Myanmar’s air force dropped multiple bombs while attack helicopters strafed the civilian gathering of several hundred people, said Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), which was set up to oppose junta rule.
Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan has labeled airstrikes carried out by the Myanmar Armed Forces on a village that killed civilians as "reprehensible".
Indonesia's statement as Asean Chair called for the end of all forms of violence immediately, especially the use of force against civilians.
Nabila Massrali, a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs and security policy, said: “The EU is deeply shocked by reports of the latest atrocity committed by the military regime in Sagaing, taking the lives of dozens of innocent civilians. We will continue to work to hold those responsible fully accountable.” The Guardian reports.
UN rights chief Volker Türk said he was “horrified” by the airstrikes whose victims he said included schoolchildren performing dances, with the global body calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Tom Andrews, a UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, criticised the international response to the crisis in Myanmar: “The Myanmar military’s attacks against innocent people, including today’s 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?”
The military took responsibility for the airstrike but denied it had killed civilians, claiming instead it had targeted “terrorists”. In response to accusations of abuses, the military government often accuses pro-democracy forces of terrorism.
António Guterres, the UN secretary general, “strongly condemns the attack by the Myanmar Armed Forces today”, according to a statement by his spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric. Guterres “reiterates his call for the military to end the campaign of violence against the Myanmar population throughout the country”, Dujarric added.
The military, which seized power in a coup in February 2021, has abolished 40 political parties, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).
The military has deployed brutal violence to try to suppress determined opposition from the public, and much of the country is engulfed in conflict as an armed resistance seeks to overthrow the generals. Military airstrikes are now an almost daily occurrence and more than 1.38 million people have been displaced by fighting since the coup, according to the UN.
Read more at the Guardian