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Myanmar junta bombs rebel meeting, killing 16 including child

Myanmar junta airstrikes on a gathering of opponents of military rule killed 16 people, including a child, and injured 25, residents and an anti-junta militia member said on Friday.

The anti-military activists were meeting in a Buddhist monastery in Magway region when the aircraft attacked, said a resident of the area who identified himself as Ko Lin. A child was among the dead in the Thursday morning attack in Ah Kyi Pan Pa Lun village in Saw township, he said.

“The monastery was hit with firebombs. Eleven or 12 people were caught in the fire,” he told Radio Free Asia.

The dead had been cremated and the wounded were being treated, according to groups helping the  victims.

RFA tried to contact the junta’s spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, by telephone for more details but he did not answer.

Myanmar’s central dry zone, made up of the Sagaing, Magway and Mandalay regions, has become a hotbed of opposition to military rule from the majority ethnic Burman community. Pro-democracy activists took up arms after the military overthrew an elected government in 2021, forming militias known as People’s Defense Forces (PDF) and allied with ethnic minority insurgent groups that have been battling for self-determination in border regions for decades.

The anti-junta forces have been on the offensive since late last year, making significant gains in several areas.

The junta has used heavy firepower in its battles against PDF fighters in central Myanmar, at times leveling villages and killing numerous civilians, survivors have said. 

A member of Saw township’s PDF said the jets attacked from an air base in Tada-U in Mandalay Division.

“It seems that the members were being targeted when they were meeting in the monastery, but civilians were also there,” said the militia member, who declined to be identified.

He said a jet made three attack runs over the village, dropping six bombs in all.

Thursday’s attack on Ah Kyi Pan Pa Lun was the most deadly in the district since the war began, residents said.

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