At least 50 civilians including children were killed and 30 injured when a regime jet fighter bombed Pazi Gyi Village in Kanbalu Township of Sagaing Region at around 7.45 a.m. on Tuesday in one of the deadliest air strikes launched by the regime so far.
The jet fighter dropped two bombs on a house in Pazi Gyi where a housewarming ceremony was being held by local residents and village defense members tasked with protecting residents’ properties and safeguarding the village.
The attack was followed by several rounds of gunfire from an Mi-35 combat helicopter, according to local sources.
“Many people including children were killed and the casualties may exceed more than 50 people,” said U Nay Zin Latt, the elected MP for Kanbalu Township. Some initial unconfirmed reports put the death toll at about 100.
Children aged 2 and 3 years old were reportedly among those gathered in the area where the air strikes occurred. It is estimated that at least 50 people were killed and 30 injured in the attack, but those numbers could well rise, according to local witnesses.
“At the moment it’s hard to say exactly how many casualties there were. We haven’t been able to retrieve bodies and body parts, as the area where the air strike occurred is still burning,” a resident from a neighboring village said. Additionally, many of the bodies are reportedly unrecognizable, making it difficult to identify victims.
The regime frequently launches air strikes in areas that are known as anti-regime strongholds like Sagaing and Chin State. Bombs dropped during air strikes in Falam, Chin State on Monday killed at least nine civilians, while an air strike in Kachin State last year killed around 80 people.
Pazi Gyi resident Ko Aung recalled the shocking sight that confronted him when he arrived at the scene of the air strike.
“I stood petrified as I saw bodies that were spread on the ground. Motorbikes were burning and the house was also completely destroyed by the bombardment. People were crying as they were looking for their relatives,” he said.
Ko Aung said he had planned to join the ceremony after he finished carrying rice sacks in the west of the village for his older brother’s wedding, which was to be held on Wednesday.
“I narrowly escaped the bombing but I was there when the Mi-35 attacked us. I jumped under a concrete bridge to take cover from the attack. I lost relatives in the bombing. My nephews, uncles and cousins were all killed,” he said.
Condemning the Pazi Gyi Village attack as another brutal war crime by the regime, Myanmar civilian National Unity Government (NUG) acting president Dula Lashi La said in a message of condolence that the revolutionary spirit against the regime would not be swayed, adding the attack would become a huge push factor helping to topple the regime.
“Let me tell you seriously that the lives lost will not be wasted,” he said.
Last month, Pazi Gyi was hit by heavy shelling that damaged three houses.
There have been no reports of fighting between regime troops and resistance forces in the area. Regime troops advancing in east Kanbalu Township are far from the village targeted for bombing by the regime’s air force.