Myanmar army helicopters fired on a school, killing six


At least six children were killed and 17 wounded when military helicopters fired on a school in Myanmar, media reports and residents said on Monday, in what the army said opened fire because rebels were using the building to attack its forces.

Myanmar has seen violence since the army toppled an elected government early last year. Since then opposition movements, some of them armed, have sprung up across the country, and the army has met them with lethal force.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the details of Friday’s violence in the village of Letit Kony in the central Sage district.

According to reports from the Mizima and Irrawaddy news portals, military helicopters opened fire on the school located in a Buddhist monastery in the village.

Reports stated that some children were killed on the spot by the shooting, while others were killed after the forces entered the village.

Two residents, who asked not to be identified due to security concerns, said by phone that the army later moved the bodies to a town 11 kilometers away and buried them.

Pictures posted on social media showed what appeared to be damage, including bullet holes and bloodstains, in a school building.

In a statement, the military said the Kachin Independence Army, a rebel group, and the People’s Defense Forces, an umbrella organization of militants dubbed “terrorists” by the military council, were hiding in the monastery and using the village to transport weapons in the area.

She added that the security forces sent by helicopter conducted a “sudden search” and were attacked by the Popular Defense Forces and the Iraqi army inside the houses and the monastery.

She said that the security forces responded and said that some villagers were killed in the clash and that the wounded were taken to public hospitals for treatment. The statement accused the armed groups of using the villagers as human shields and said that weapons, including 16 improvised bombs, were later seized.

In a statement issued after Friday’s violence, Myanmar’s pro-democracy shadow government, known as the National Unity Government (NUG), accused the junta of committing “targeted attacks” on schools.

The government of national unity also called for the release of 20 students and teachers it said were arrested in the wake of the air strikes.

Documented violent attacks on schools rose to about 190 in 2021 in Myanmar from 10 the previous year, according to Save the Children, a nongovernmental organization.

The organization said in a report this month that the use of schools as bases by both the military and armed groups has increased across the country, disrupting education and putting children at risk.

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