Airstrike targets insurgent meeting in Myanmar, 16 killed

Activists suspect junta forces got a tip-off about a meeting of anti-junta groups.
RFA Burmese
Airstrike targets insurgent meeting in Myanmar, 16 killed A destroyed building in Let Pan Tan village, Sagaing region, after an airstrike by junta forces on June 8, 2024.
Citizen journalist

A Myanmar military airstrike on a meeting of anti-junta activists in a monastery in central Myanmar killed 16 people, including two monks, and wounded 22 people, witnesses told Radio Free Asia.

The bloody raid in Let Pan Tan village was the latest in the central region of Sagaing, which has been rocked by violence since the military overthrew an elected government in 2021 triggering an insurgency by members of the majority Burman community in Myanmar’s heartland.

Activists taking up arms against military rule have formed militias called People’s Defense Forces, linking up with ethnic minority insurgent groups  that have been battling for self-determination for decades in remote borderlands.

One witness close to a People’s Defense Force said the military must have received a tip-off that the meeting was taking place on Saturday.

“The bombardment was carried out while the people were in the meeting due to leaked information. How would they know from so far away?” said the source who declined to be identified for security reasons.

“So it’s clear we should consider that there are spies and informers in the village or near the village, who are secretly collecting information about us.” 

RFA was not able to contact People’s Defense Force groups in the region. Sagaing’s junta spokesperson, Nyunt Win Aung, did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

While junta troops have been pushed back in several parts of the country since allied anti-junta fighters went on the offensive late last year, the military can unleash devastating force in seconds with its jets.

Anti-junta forces have no air power with the exception of drones, and little in the way of anti-aircraft weapon systems to face the threat.

On June 3, a junta airstrike on a wedding in Sagaing’s Mingin township killed 33 people and wounded 64.

RFA has not been able to verify whether the civilians were among the casualties in Let Pan Tan, where numerous buildings, including a second monastery, were damaged, the witnesses said.

Military swoop for suspects

Nine people at the meeting were killed on the spot and seven died later of their wounds, residents said.

It was impossible to identify some of the victims, another witness, who also declined to be identified, told RFA.  

“The bodies were badly damaged and disfigured,” said the witness, adding that several victims were decapitated. “There are quite a lot of people who got severely hurt and had their arms or legs severed (in the blast). There isn’t enough medicine for  everyone.”

Early on Sunday, a convoy of junta troops raided Let Pan Tan village and arrested about 10 people, including women, the witness said. RFA was not able to verify that information.

According to compiled data by the RFA, junta attacks have killed 662 civilians and injured 1,492 more nationwide from January to May 2024.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan. 


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