Death Toll from Myanmar Junta’s Airstrike on Concert Rises to 75

By Hein Htoo Zan 27 October 2022

The number of people killed by a junta airstrike on a music concert in ANang Pa village, Hpakant Township rose to 75 as of Thursday, with more in danger of succumbing to their injuries as regime troops block medical treatment, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) said.

Three junta jet-fighters bombed the concert held at the village on Sunday night to mark the 62nd anniversary of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The deadly airstrike on a civilian area has been widely condemned as a war crime.

KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy that about a dozen of the injured are dying every day as junta troops continue to block roads after the incident.

“The death toll will continue rising because many are in critical condition and cannot be taken to hospital,” Colonel Naw Bu said.

He said that volunteers and villagers had managed to transport a few of the injured to hospitals or clinics via forest paths but about 64 people wounded in the attack were suffering without proper treatment.

The KIA did not say exactly how many of their officials were killed in the attack, but according to figures collected by The Irrawaddy, 28 of the 75 victims were from the KIA or its political wing, the Karen Independence Organization (KIO). Among them was the Commander of the KIA’s Brigade 9, and members of the Kachin Region People’s Defense Force (KPDF).

Of the remaining 47 victims, six were Kachin ethnic businessmen and eight were members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who were sheltering in KIA-controlled areas to evade arrest.

A rescue team from Hpakant’s Lone Khin village said they had been unable to reach ANang Pa to transport the injured to hospital.

“We tried to get to A Nang Pa in the early morning of Oct 24 but troops would not let us cross the bridge. They have been blocking the road and it’s very frustrating because there are still many injured people over there,” a 47-year-old rescue volunteer said.

Kachin ethnic community leaders, Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and representatives of the Kachin Peace-Creation Group (PCG) were reportedly negotiating with junta forces for access up until Wednesday but with no success, Hpakant residents said.

Founded on Oct. 25, 1960, the KIO is a powerful Kachin political organization whose armed wing, the KIA, has been fighting the Myanmar government and military for greater state autonomy. Following the coup last year, the KIA has been launching military operations alongside anti-regime forces in Kachin State. The KIO refused to join the junta’s peace talks this year, branding them illegitimate.

The junta said the airstrike on the concert was retaliation for attacks on its military bases by resistance forces. It also denied civilians including musicians were killed in the bombing and claimed A Nang Pa was a KIA 9th Brigade military camp.

In a statement, the KIO said rather than being a military camp, the area attacked was a rest area with a few shops.