Myanmar army fighter jets launched air strikes on Saturday on a village near the Thai border in territory controlled by an armed ethnic group prompting nearly 3,000 villagers from Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state to escape to Thailand.
This comes after Karen National Union (KNU), the ethnic group that controls the southeastern region, said three villagers lost their lives, while eight sustained injuries following an attack by fighter jets on Kawthoolei (Karen state).
“Today the Burma Army continued its airstrikes in 5 areas in Lu Thaw Township, Mu Traw District. There is reason to believe that the soldiers responsible will launch this airstrike again in the villages along the Salween River, Mae Nu Hta, Kho Kay including Ei Htu Hta internally displaced person (IDP) camp,” tweeted Karen Women Organisation, working in refugee camps on the Thai border.
Apart from the air strikes, the military junta continued to crackdown on peaceful protests on Saturday and killed at least 114 civilians across the country. The killings in 44 towns and cities across the country would represent the bloodiest day of protests since a military coup last month.
Among those killed is a 13-year-old who was shot in her house after the junta’s armed forces opened fire in residential areas of Meikhtila.
United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterparts from various countries on Saturday condemned the deadly use of force by Myanmar Armed Forces against unarmed protesters.
Chief of Defense from various countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the US condemned the bloodshed in Myanmar by the armed forces and associated security services.
Responding to the deadly attacks, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement said, “The continuing military crackdown…is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified and resolute international response”.
“The military celebrated Armed Forces Day by committing mass murder against the people it should be defending”, tweeted Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
On February 1, following a general election in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide, the military seized control of the country and declared a year-long state of emergency. As Suu Kyi remains in detention at an unknown location, protesters have taken to the streets.