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At least 29 people died at a refugee camp in northern Myanmar this week in an artillery strike that critics blamed on the country’s ruling junta, as the military battles various ethnic resistance movements following a coup more than two years ago, Sky News reported.
The strike hit a camp three miles from the town of Laiza in Kachin State, which borders China. Laiza is run by the Kachin Independence Army, a rebel group that has been fighting against Myanmar’s military government for years.
Local civil rights groups said the death toll included women and children, adding that 59 others were injured.
The shadow National Unity Government – made up of former officials and lawmakers ousted by the junta – blamed the military for the attack and described it as a “war crime and (a) crime against humanity.” It urged the international community to take action and prosecute army leaders.
But the junta rejected the allegations and said it was investigating the matter. Officials suggested that the explosion may have involved an ethnic rebel group’s own munitions.
Myanmar’s military leaders have been embroiled in numerous conflicts in various regions across the country following its February 2021 coup. At the time, the army ousted and arrested the democratically-elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Mass protests erupted soon after the coup, with the junta launching a brutal crackdown on protesters. Meanwhile, ethnic minority militias and a resistance movement continue to try to destabilize the military regime.
These conflicts have resulted in more than a million people being displaced, according to the United Nations.