Reuters: Myanmar’s military has defended air strikes on a concert organised by an ethnic minority force as a justified response to attacks in the area, after opponents accused the junta of targeting civilians and conducting war crimes.
The air strikes late on Sunday in Kachin State in the north killed at least 50 civilians, including singers and officers of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), media reported, citing witnesses who said three planes carried out the attack.
The military said its forces were responding to ambushes and other attacks by the KIA and armed groups on its forces and that it met international rules of engagement.
“As security forces, they are responsible for fighting insurgents, which is essential for regional peace and stability,” the military said in a statement posted on a military web site.
The KIA has been fighting on and off for six decades for greater autonomy for the Kachin people. It has voiced support for opposition to military rule in the wake of a coup last year when the generals overthrew an elected civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The shadow National Unity Government (NUG), largely made up of Suu Kyi loyalists, accused the army of targeting civilians and called on the United Nations and the international community to intervene and stop “atrocities and war crimes committed by the junta”.
“We need immediate tangible action and support from the international community to hold the junta accountable,” Dr Sasa, a spokesperson for the NUG set up by opponents of the junta after the coup, said in a statement.