Airstrike in Rebel-Held Region of Myanmar Kills at Least 100

Myanmar’s military regime continued its relentless campaign of airstrikes on Tuesday by bombing a large gathering in rebel-held territory, killing at least 100 people in the junta’s deadliest attack since seizing power in a coup more than two years ago.

At least 30 children were among the dead in the attack in Sagaing Region, said an emergency worker at the scene and an official of the shadow National Unity Government, which considers itself to be Myanmar’s true government. The death toll was expected to rise.

“This is a war crime,” said Byar Kyi, a soldier with a local resistance unit who was helping to recover bodies at the site. “The place they attacked was not a military target.”

Rescuers described a gruesome scene in Pazigyi Village in southern Sagaing Region, where body parts were scattered over a wide area after a military jet and helicopter bombed and strafed the largely civilian gathering.

Photos from the village being shared on social media showed more than a dozen burned and mutilated bodies, while videos showed a destroyed building, burned motorcycles and debris scattered over a wide area. Rescuers at the scene confirmed the authenticity of the images with The New York Times.

The apparent target of the attack was a celebration to mark the local resistance movement’s opening of an administration office. Only the charred frame of the building remained standing after the air raid, a video and photos showed.

Myanmar’s military, which has battled armed ethnic groups for territorial control since soon after independence in 1948, has a long history of brutal attacks on civilians.

Since the coup, pro-democracy forces have united with some armed ethnic groups in a national campaign to oust the military from power, creating the most unified resistance movement the military has faced.

As the rebel forces have become increasingly better armed, the military has doubled down on its strategy of carrying out deadly air raids and attacking civilians, including the killing of monks and civilians at a monastery last month.

In October, military jets attacked a concert in Kachin State, killing at least 80 people, among them musicians who were performing onstage at the time.

Much of Sagaing Region in the northwestern part of Myanmar, bordering India, is a rebel stronghold where the military’s ground forces have had difficulty gaining territory.

“The regime has increased its military budget and airstrikes are increasing,” said Aung Myo Min, the National Unity Government’s human rights minister. “The people of Myanmar are sending a message to the international community with their blood about the military’s brutal war crimes.”

The emergency worker at the scene said that at least 100 people were confirmed dead and that more remained unaccounted for. Mr. Aung Myo Min, who was not at the scene, said that 53 intact bodies had been found and that recovery efforts continued.

The attack on Pazigyi Village prompted human rights advocates to renew their call for a ban on the sale of aviation fuel to the regime.

Mr. Byar Kyi, who is a soldier with the Kyun Hla Underground Force, a local armed group, said that survivors of the attack told him it was carried out by a jet fighter and a combat helicopter. Russia has been a major contributor of such arms to the junta, despite its continuing war in Ukraine.

Several of the victims in Pazigyi Village were local resistance fighters who had come for the celebration, he said, but most were civilians. “There are many children and women,” he said, “in the pile of dead bodies.”

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