Casualties continue to mount in Myanmar as junta forces make increasing use of airstrikes and heavy artillery bombardments on civilian targets.
Figures compiled exclusively by Radio Free Asia show that 44 civilians were killed and 142 injured in such attacks in September alone.
On Sept. 28, four members of the same family died when a shell landed on their house in Sagaing region’s Kale township.
“The shell dropped landed straight on their house and they died on the spot,” a local resident who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals told RFA Burmese.
Locals said villages are often targeted after junta troops suffer casualties in fighting with People’s Defense Forces in Sagaing.
A battle between the two sides broke out in Pale township in Sagaing region on Sept. 29. The junta then fired on the Htan Ta Pin neighborhood, killing a 64-year-old woman and destroying houses, locals said.
“The junta opened fire at least 10 times and five to six shells dropped on Htan Ta Pin, with the others falling on an adjoining neighborhood,” said a local who also declined to be named.
The attacks are indiscriminate; last Wednesday 18 students were injured in Sagaing region’s Wuntho township when a shell exploded next to a school.
RFA’s figures show Sagaing was the hardest-hit region or state last month with 20 deaths and 38 injuries as a result of aerial and land bombardment.
Bago region was the second hardest hit with four civilian deaths and 26 injuries. The region has seen fierce fighting between junta troops and the military wing of the Karen National Union, a powerful ethnic group.
For the year through September, 816 civilians were killed in shelling and aerial attacks, with 1,628 people injured, RFA figures show.
Junta forces rely on airstrikes and shelling in areas where ground troops have made little progress, according to political analyst Than Soe Naing.
“The air raids cause massive casualties nationwide,” he said.
“The junta has stepped up its terrorist acts by carrying out these indiscriminate attacks.”
RFA called junta spokesperson Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun seeking comment on the rising civilian casualties, but no one answered.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.