About 100 persons were killed in a village in Myanmar on Tuesday after the country’s military launched airstrikes at an event held by opponents of its rule, reported the Associated Press.
Junta spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun said the military dropped bombs onto a crowd of villagers who were holding a ceremony to mark the opening of a local office of the country’s opposition movement outside Pazigyi village in Sagaing region.
“During that opening ceremony, we conducted the attack,” he said. “PDF [People’s Defence Force] members were killed. They are the ones opposing the government of the country, the people of the country.”
The military had taken over the country following a coup on February 1, 2021, that was launched after the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi in the national elections in November 2020. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party had performed poorly in its key strongholds.
Security forces in Myanmar have been since cracking down heavily on those who have been agitating against the coup and the military actions have drawn global criticism. More than 3,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed by security forces since the coup, reported AP.
Several anti-coup militias like the People’s Defence Force in the country are also waging an armed campaign against the military in various parts of Myanmar, reported the BBC.
About 150 persons had gathered at Tuesday’s event, AP reported, citing a witness. Women and 20 to 30 children, and leaders of locally formed anti-junta armed groups and other opposition organisations were among those dead.
After dropping bombs, a helicopter gunship attacked the village for 20 minutes, another witness told the BBC. The aircraft returned and opened fire on those trying to collect the dead.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for those responsible to be held accountable. He also called for the injured to be allowed to receive urgent medical treatment and access to assistance.
“The secretary-general condemns all forms of violence and reaffirms the primacy of protection of civilians, in accordance with international humanitarian law,” his spokesperson said.
He also reiterated his demand to end the campaign of violence against the Myanmar population throughout the country in line with a Security Council resolution adopted in December.