Airstrike Kills at Least 80 During Outdoor Concert in Myanmar

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As justification for the bombing, the junta cited recent attacks on its forces by combined units of the Kachin Independence Army and the People’s Defense Force, including numerous assaults on police posts and at least 11 troop ambushes.

Myanmar’s military, which had shared power with a civilian government for a decade, seized control in a coup on Feb. 1, 2021, and has waged a brutal crackdown on opponents ever since. At least 2,388 civilians have been killed and nearly 16,000 arrested, according to rights groups.

Many pro-democracy activists have fled to remote parts of the country that are under the control of ethnic rebel groups and joined the People’s Defense Force to wage what they call a revolution against the junta. The military has retaliated by bombing suspected rebel encampments with fighter jets.

The shadow National Unity Government, made up of ethnic leaders and elected officials who escaped arrest after the coup, said the regime had launched nearly 240 airstrikes against civilians, killing more than 200, before the concert bombing. Last month, the military attacked a school in the Sagaing Division, killing 14 people, including seven children, the unity government said. (These numbers could not be independently verified by The Times.)

“The terrorist military has deliberately committed another mass killing with aerial bombardments by targeting a large public concert,” the National Unity Government said. The Kachin Independence Organization announced in a statement Tuesday that it would step up its military activities against the junta in retaliation for Sunday’s attack.

Kachin State, which borders China and India, is well known for its lucrative jade trade, worth billions of dollars a year. The industry operates outside the rule of law and deadly mine collapses are common, sometimes killing hundreds. The jade business is largely controlled by the military and its crony companies, but the Kachin rebels also extract revenue from the miners.

Competition for Myanmar’s vast natural resources has long been a major source of conflict between the military and numerous ethnic groups that have formed their own armies to fight back against the regime.


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