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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Radio Free Asia

Death toll in Hpakant township concert bombing rises above 70

The injured have been unable to receive proper treatment because junta forces sealed roads.

By RFA Burmese 2022.10.25 -- More than 70 people are now believed dead after junta forces bombed a concert in Myanmar's Kachin state, in what's thought to be the bloodiest airstrike since the Feb. 2021 coup.

Around 150 injured people have not received medical treatment because troops blocked roads leading from the Anan Pa training ground.

The training ground is about two miles (3.2 kilometers) away from Hpakant township's Kan Hsee village, which is controlled by the anti-junta Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Brigade 9. Junta forces bombed the area with two fighter jets at around 9:00 p.m. on Oct. 23.

"The number of injured is around 150 to date and the number of people who died is more than 70," a local told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They cannot receive medical treatment as the junta has not allowed [vehicles] to pass."

Aid workers who are trying to rescue survivors and help the injured confirmed that the State Administration Council (SAC) army in Kan Hsee village is still restricting the transportation of bodies and the injured.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) issued a statement Tuesday saying Anan Pa is a small camp with no connection to the KIA. It said the junta attacked it to cause the maximum possible deaths as civilians were attending a music concert. It also expressed condolences for the loss of lives of many civilians and KIO personnel. The KIO said it will transform this 'sorrowful incident into a revolutionary force' and accelerate the fight against the military dictatorship.

The KIO is one of the biggest ethnic groups in northeastern Myanmar and the KIA is its military wing.

The SAC said it struck back at the KIA and People Defense Forces (PDFs) after they attacked military junta bases and vessels in the area, It said only KIA officers were killed and no civilians were killed during the attack.

On Monday the U.N.'s Myanmar office called the attack an "excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians."

The embassies of the U.S., E.U., Norway, Switzerland and the U.K. issued a joint statement saying the attack showed the junta's disregard for its obligation to protect civilians and respect the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.

Elaine Pearson, the Asia director at non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch called the airstrike:an "apparent violation of the laws of war, which prohibit attacks causing indiscriminate or disproportionate civilian harm."

"For over a year and a half, the junta has carried out grave abuses against the millions of people who oppose military rule, amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes. How high does the death count need to reach before governments around the world impose consequences that will impact the junta's behavior?" she went on to say,

"This horrific attack should trigger renewed efforts by concerned states to enforce tougher sanctions on the junta, including cutting off its access to foreign currency revenues as well as arms and aviation fuel. The United Nations Security Council should urgently pass a resolution imposing a global arms embargo on the junta and referring the situation to the International Criminal Court. Southeast Asian leaders meeting this week and at the ASEAN Summit in November should signal their support for such efforts to bring justice to the victims of the junta's abuses across the country."

This story has been updated in the final paragraphs to include comments from Human Rights Watch.

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