Children among 8 killed in Myanmar military air strike – rights group, media

(Reuters) – At least eight civilians including children were killed in an air strike on a village in northwest Myanmar, according to a human rights group, ethnic minority rebels and media, the latest violence as the ruling military battles to consolidate power.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a coup two years ago, with attacks by ethnic minority armies and a resistance fighters challenging the rule of the military, which has responded with air strikes and heavy weapons, including in civilian areas.

The air strike took place on Thursday, with four bombs dropped on a Khuafo, a village of about 60 households in Chin State, bordering India, according to the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) and the Chin National Front.

Both groups said two children, ages 3 and 9, were among the dead. Reuters could not independently verify the accounts and a spokesperson for the junta could not be reached on Friday.

Salai Mang Hre Lian of the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) said there were no resistance fighters based in the village.

“Therefore we can say it is deliberate attack targeted toward civilians,” he said.

Pictures shared by the CHRO, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed damaged houses and the bodies of two children in coffins made from planks of wood.

News outlets Myanmar Now, the Irrawaddy and BBC Burmese reported 10 deaths from the incident, with women and children among those.

A spokesperson for the Chin National Front (CNF) told Reuters 10 people were killed and 20 were wounded, adding there had been no fighting in the area in the past 20 days.

The military has denied international allegations it has committed atrocities against civilians and says it is fighting “terrorists” determined to destabilise the country.

At least 1.2 million people have been displaced by violence, the United Nations says.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing on Monday vowed before a huge military parade on Monday to destroy the armed resistance groups and urged foreign countries to support his efforts to restore democracy, including the holding of an election.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies, Kanupriya Kapoor and Jonathan Oatis)