Myanmar army helicopters fire on school, killing 13, residents say

At least 13 people, including seven children, were killed when a military helicopter fired on a school in Myanmar, media reports and residents said, as the military said it opened fire as rebels used the building to attack its troops.

Myanmar has been plagued by violence since the army overthrew the democratically elected government early last year. Since then, opposition movements, some of them armed, have emerged across the country, and the military has fought back with lethal force.

Reuters could not independently verify the details of Friday’s violence in the village of Let Yet Kone in the central Sagaing region.

Military helicopters opened fire on a school inside a Buddhist monastery in the village, according to Radio Free Asia, Mizma and the Irrawaddy news portal.

Some died on the spot in the shooting, while others died after the troops entered the village, the report said.

The bodies were later transported by the military to a township seven miles away and buried, two residents who declined to be named due to security concerns said by phone.

Another resident said about 2,000 people had fled their homes in the area.

Images posted on social media showed damage to a school building including bullet holes and bloodstains.

The rebel group Kachin Independence Army and the People’s Defence Forces (PDF), an umbrella group of armed guerrillas dubbed “terrorists” by the junta, have been hiding in the monastery and using the village in the area, the military said in a statement. Transport weapons.

It said security forces dispatched by helicopters carried out “surprise inspections” and were attacked by the Wehrmacht and KIA inside houses and monasteries.

It said security forces had responded and said some villagers were killed in the clashes and the wounded were taken to public hospitals for treatment. The statement accused armed groups of using villagers as human shields and said weapons, including 16 handmade bombs, were subsequently seized.

In a statement following Friday’s violence, Myanmar’s democratic shadow government, known as the National Unity Government (NUG), accused the military junta of “targeted attacks” on schools.

The NUG also called for the release of 20 students and teachers allegedly arrested following the airstrike.

Recorded violent attacks on schools in Myanmar surged to about 190 in 2021, up from 10 the year before, according to the NGO Save the Children.

There has also been an increase in the use of schools as bases by the military and armed groups across the country, disrupting education and endangering children, the group said in a report this month.

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