Burmese army airstrikes on a village in the country’s northwest on Thursday killed at least eight civilians, including two children, according to members of a rebel ethnic minority group and independent media reports.
The attack on Khuafo village, just north of Thantlang, a major city in Chin state near the Indian border, also injured 20 people, they said. It came three days after senior General Min Aung Hlaing, head of Myanmar’s ruling military council, said in an Armed Forces Day speech that the military must take decisive action against forces that defy control of him.
The country’s independent online media reported the aerial bombardment, but there was no immediate news about it in the state-controlled media.
AIR ATTACK IN MYANMAR DESTROYS 2 VILLAGES INHABITED BY ETHNIC REBEL FORCES, KILLS 5
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, sparking widespread popular opposition. After peaceful demonstrations were put down with lethal force, many opponents of the military government took up arms and much of the country is now embroiled in conflict.
The resulting pro-democracy resistance has allied itself with various ethnic minorities, including the Chin, who have been waging an armed struggle for decades in search of greater autonomy. The military has tried to suppress such opposition with air and artillery strikes, with civilians often the victims. More than 1 million people have been displaced by military offensives since the takeover.
Salai Htet Ni, a spokesman 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, about 3 miles north of Thantlang, killing a group of civilians, including two children.
Many of the village’s more than 60 houses have been destroyed by fire, he said.
Another group member who is at his camp in Thantlang said a Mi-35 helicopter fired a machine gun at the village while fighter jets were dropping bombs. According to a list of the dead he received, five were female and three male, and ranged in age from 6 to 40 years. He spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals from the military.
According to the Political Prisoners Assistance Association, an exiled group that monitors human rights in Myanmar, at least 3,182 civilians have been killed by security forces since the army took over.
In January, military aircraft bombed the Chin National Front headquarters in Thantlang, killing five members of its wing, the Chin National Army, and damaging a clinic and other buildings.
There is currently no active fighting near Thantlang between the resistance forces and the army. More than 10,000 Thantlang residents fled the city as intense fighting took place in late 2021, some temporarily staying in nearby villages including Khuafo and others seeking refuge across the border in Mizoram, India.
Resistance forces in Myanmar have been able to prevent the military from firmly taking control of large swathes of the country, but they have a major weapon disadvantage, particularly in countering airstrikes.
Resistance supporters advocate banning or limiting the sale of aviation fuel to Myanmar to cripple the military’s advantage in air power. Many Western nations have already imposed arms embargoes on the military government, and last week the United States and Britain enacted new sanctions against individuals and companies involved in supplying jet fuel to Myanmar.
MYANMAR MILITARY GOVERNMENT ACCUSES REBEL FORCES OF SHOOTING AT PASSENGER PLANE
On Wednesday, the military government took another major step in its ongoing campaign to paralyze its political opponents, disbanding dozens of opposition parties, including that of ousted leader Suu Kyi for missing a registration deadline before promised elections.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, one of 40 ordered parties dissolved by the military-appointed election commission, had already announced it would not register, denouncing the polls as a sham.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said he was “deeply concerned” by reports of the dissolution of the parties.
“Any attempt to undermine democratic institutions and processes will only aggravate the crisis and delay the return to a fully democratic and inclusive Myanmar,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The UN chief “reiterates his call to neighboring countries and other member states to urge military leadership to adhere to inclusive political processes” and reiterates his call for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including Suu Kyi, Dujarric said.