Myanmar: Death Toll from Airstrike on Kachin Hits 80

New reports have put the death toll from a military air raid in Myanmar's northern Kachin state at 80, with around 100 wounded. According to Colonel Naw Bu of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), "two Myanmar military jets attacked”

Myanmar: Death Toll from Airstrike on Kachin Hits 80
Image credit: Human Rights Watch [via Australian Broadcasting Corporation]

Facts

  • New reports have put the death toll from a military air raid in Myanmar's northern Kachin state at 80, with around 100 wounded. According to Colonel Naw Bu of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), "two Myanmar military jets attacked” a celebratory event held by the prominent ethnic rebel group on Sunday night.
  • Rebel ethnic-minority resistance has increased since the military coup last year, with this attack reportedly targeting a concert celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the formation of the Kachin army's fight for autonomy. It appears to be the worst air raid since Myanmar’s military seized power.
  • Among the dead are believed to be four popular Kachin singers, with eyewitnesses saying the Myanmar military blocked medics trying to move the injured to the nearby town of Hpakant.
  • Witnesses in the northern Myanmar state say aircraft dropped multiple bombs that ripped apart the cluster of buildings at the KIA army base and caused heavy casualties in the audience.
  • The part of Kachin where they dropped the bombs has been tightly contested for many years by the military and Kachin insurgents due to its jade mines, believed to be worth roughly $30B per year.
  • This comes just days before scheduled emergency talks between Southeast Asian foreign ministers to examine the situation in Myanmar ahead of November's Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders' summit.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Business Standard, Star, BBC News, and Mizzima.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by The Guardian. This attack is but the latest in a series of indiscriminate bombings against civilian populations and more evidence of the government's complete disregard for human lives and international law. The perpetrators must be held to account.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Manila Times. While the loss of lives is tragic, KIA has been engaged in militant operations against the Myanmar government for decades and carried out countless terrorist attacks. Sunday's operation — inflated by the media — was a necessary step to counter one of the most potent and dangerous rebel groups.