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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Myanmar Junta Defends Deadly Attack on Rebels

By VOA News October 25, 2022

Myanmar's military junta is denying that civilians were killed in airstrikes carried out Sunday against an ethnic rebel force.

Leaders of the Kachin Independence Organization say the attack took place in part of Hpakant township during a celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the group's founding. The Kachin News Group says about 80 people were killed in the attack, including members of the Kachin Independence Army and several civilians. Singers and musicians performing at the celebration were also among the dead. The number of casualties could not be verified.

The junta issued a statement saying the airstrikes were in response to ambushes and other "terrorist" attacks in the region carried out by the KIA, and called reports of civilian deaths as "rumors."

The United Nations issued a statement Monday saying the "excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians is unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account."

Ambassadors from the United States and other Western nations issued a joint statement condemning the attack, saying it underscores the junta's "disregard for its obligation to protect civilians and respect the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.

The KIO and its armed wing are among several ethnic groups that have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades against the military, which has ruled Myanmar for the greater part of six decades, except for the five-year period when the country was led by a democratically-elected civilian government headed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The KIO formed a loose alliance with the shadow National Unity Government, which was formed in 2021 in the aftermath of the military coup that ousted Suu Kyi from power.

Foreign ministers with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations are scheduled to hold a special meeting this week in Indonesia to discuss a five-point "consensus" reached with Myanmar's military rulers aimed at bringing an end to the junta's brutal crackdowns on armed groups opposed to the junta.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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