At least 11 children died in an airstrike that destroyed a school in a village in northern Burma, UNICEF said on Tuesday, with the army accusing local militias of using the civilians as human shields.
“On September 16, at least 11 children died as a result of an airstrike and indiscriminate shooting in civilian areas, including a school in Depeyin, in the Sagaing region,” said Unicef Burma.
“At least 15 children from the same school have disappeared. Unicef calls for their immediate and safe release,” the UN agency continued.
A video obtained from a local association shows bloodstains on the school floor and the corpse of a child wrapped in a sheet near which his mother meditates.
The Burmese junta on Tuesday confirmed “several dead and injured villagers” during an operation that involved several of its helicopters last Friday in the area concerned.
The “Tatmadaw” (name of the forces Burmese armies) accused the local militias it fights of using civilians as human shields and committing war crimes. During this operation, it also seized 23 mines and eight homemade bombs.
The international community “must condemn this attack and do everything in its power to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable. accounts”, reacted Hassan Noor, director for Asia of the NGO Save The Children.
“We ask ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, editor's note) to stand up and act. How many incidents like this have to happen before something gets done?” he continued.
Since the February 1, 2021 coup that overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the ruling military has been waging a bloody crackdown on its opponents, with nearly of 2,300 civilians killed and more than 15,000 arrested, according to a local NGO.