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Indiscriminate shelling kills mothers, children in Myanmar

An artillery attack in northern Myanmar killed five civilians, residents told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday. The victims included two women in their 30s and three children in Kachin state’s Bhamo township.

Conflict in the area has already killed three civilians and damaged houses across the Chinese border since the Kachin Independence Army took 14 junta camps last Thursday. Flights at an airport nearby were grounded for the foreseeable future after short-range missiles damaged the runway. 

Following the group’s six-day attack last week, the Kachin Independence Army told RFA it plans to reopen the nearby Myitkyina-Bhamo road, not having had control of the camps alongside it since 2011. 

The shelling on Tuesday originated from the junta’s Bhamo-city based No. 21 Operation Command Headquarters, but landed in Kan Ni village. All five victims died immediately, said one Kan Ni local.

“The mother, Myint Maw, and her two children, as well as another unnamed mother and her child died,” he told RFA on Wednesday, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. “The three children were five to ten years old, one girl and two boys.”

The dead will be cremated at Kan Ni village cemetery on Wednesday, residents said.

Junta troops have been firing shells at several small villages like Kan Ni, despite there being no fighting in the area, locals said.

RFA phoned Kachin state junta spokesperson Moe Min Thein to learn more about the shelling, but he did not respond by the time of publication.

Junta troops and the Kachin Independence Army, alongside allied resistance groups, have clashed over Kachin state’s lucrative jade mining industry. 

Civilians have accused the junta’s army of torching houses, killing civilians and conducting raids on villages throughout the state. 

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.