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Myanmar’s military killed at least 80 people in an airstrike in the country’s north this week, the deadliest aerial attack mounted by the junta since it took power in a coup last year, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Sunday’s airstrike targeted the territory of the ethnic Kachin rebels, who have been fighting Myanmar’s military for years and recently joined pro-democracy forces to train fighters from the People’s Defence Force, an armed resistance group formed after the junta seized power in February 2021.
Representatives of the Kachin Independence Organization said Sunday’s attack targeted a concert in the village of A Nang Pa. They added that some Kachin rebel commanders and officers were killed in the strike but also accused the government of targeting civilians.
Junta officials, however, countered Tuesday that the airstrikes targeted a Kachin army base and that the military acted in accordance with its rules of engagement. Authorities noted that the bombing was in retaliation for recent attacks by Kachin rebels and the People’s Defence Force on government security forces.
They rejected reports of civilian deaths as “rumors based on fake news, false news and extorted news.”
Even so, the recent strikes prompted further calls for a global arms embargo on the junta and tougher sanctions, including a ban on aviation fuel sales.
Since the junta deposed the civilian government last year, it has launched a brutal crackdown on opponents: Human rights groups report that nearly 2,400 people have been killed and roughly 16,000 have been detained.