HRW: Myanmar Junta Used Enhanced Bomb on Sagaing Village

By The Irrawaddy 10 May 2023

Myanmar’s junta used a thermobaric or vacuum bomb in its devastating airstrike on Pazi Gyi village in Sagaing Region on April 11, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Approximately 160 people, including children and pregnant women, were killed at the Kantbalu Township event to open a civilian administrative office. Bodies were ripped apart by the blast and some were burned alive.

HRW said on Tuesday that 59 photos of the victims and a video of the site provided evidence a thermobaric bomb was used.

Vacuum bombs are more powerful than conventional high-explosive munitions and use two separate charges. The first scatters fuel as a cloud and the second detonates it, sucking away oxygen and forming a fireball.

Thermobaric munitions are not banned in warfare but their use against civilians is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and constitutes a war crime.

A survivor told The Irrawaddy: “We could not identify victims as heads were blown off the bodies. Children were killed and their limbs were blown off. Pieces of flesh were all over the place.

“I heard no screams after the people were hit because all the people were dead once the bomb exploded,” he added.

HRW said the bomb used on Pazi Gyi had caused “indiscriminate and disproportionate civilian casualties … and was an apparent war crime”.

The New York-based right group called on the United Nations Security Council to adopt an arms embargo on Myanmar, refer the junta to the International Criminal Court and impose sanctions on the military’s sprawling business empire.

“The Myanmar junta’s abusive military operations depend on its ability to purchase weapons and materiel,” it said.

“Asean and the UN Security Council both need to reconsider their toothless approaches to Myanmar’s junta and take stronger measures,” HRW added.