UN voices concern over deadly airstrikes in Myanmar's Kachin State

On Sunday, the Myanmar military launched air strikes on a musical performance near a village in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, in the north of the country.
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NAYPYIDAW [MYANMAR]: The United Nations (UN) in Myanmar has expressed deep concerns over reports of airstrikes that took place in Hpakant, Kachin State which has resulted in dozens of casualties.

On Sunday, the Myanmar military launched air strikes on a musical performance near a village in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, in the north of the country. The performance was held as part of celebrations for the 62nd anniversary of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), a prominent ethnic rebel group.

"The United Nations (UN) in Myanmar is deeply concerned and saddened by reports of airstrikes that took place in Hpakant, Kachin State around 8:00 PM on 23 October 2022.

Initial reports suggest that over 100 civilians may have been affected by the bombing. Numerous fatalities have also been reported," the UN mission in the country said in the statement.

"While the UN continues to verify the details of this attack, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who were killed or injured. The UN calls for those injured to be availed urgent medical treatment, as needed," it added.

The UN said the airstrikes "appear to be excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians is unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account."

Amnesty's deputy regional director Hana Young expressed fear that the air raids were "part of a pattern of unlawful aerial attacks by the military, which has killed and injured civilians in areas controlled by armed groups".

"The military has shown ruthless disregard for civilian lives in its escalating campaign against opponents. It is difficult to believe the military did not know of a significant civilian presence at the site of this attack.

The military must immediately grant access to medics and humanitarian assistance to those affected by these air strikes and other civilians in need," Young added.

The KIO is the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army, which controls the area and has clashed with the Myanmar military for decades, according to the London-based rights group. The military has increasingly relied on air power as it struggles to retain control of the country since seizing power in a coup in February last year.

In a July report, Amnesty International found that Myanmar's military has subjected Karen and Karenni civilians to collective punishment via widespread aerial and ground attacks, arbitrary detentions, often including torture or extrajudicial executions, and the systematic looting and burning of villages.

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