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Army helicopters killed at least 13 people, including seven children, at a school in central Myanmar this week, the latest outbreak of violence as the country’s military junta continues its brutal crackdown against opposition movements, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Media reports said the incident occurred Friday at a school placed in a Buddhist monastery in a village in the Sagaing region.

On Tuesday, military officials confirmed that the army helicopters were conducting “a surprise inspection” in the area before being attacked by two rebel groups hiding in the monastery. They added that the two groups were using the village to transport weapons to the area.

Army representatives admitted to striking the school but rejected accusations by Myanmar’s pro-democracy shadow government that it had killed children. They also accused the two rebel groups of using children and villagers as “human shields,” CNN added.

The army has been fighting numerous opposition groups that have sprung up since last year’s military coup. In early 2021, the military ousted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and launched a brutal crackdown on opposition to its rule.

Western governments and international human rights bodies have accused Myanmar’s military of war crimes and crimes against humanity as it attempts to assert control over its people, who continue to wage a campaign of mass resistance.

According to the international non-governmental organization Save the Children, documented violent attacks on schools increased to around 190 in 2021 in Myanmar, up from 10 the previous year.

The NGO wrote in a report this month that the use of schools as bases by the military and armed groups has also increased across the country, disrupting education and endangering children.

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