Myanmar Junta Air Strike Death Toll Climbs to at Least 170

By AFP 15 April 2023

BANGKOK—The death toll from an air strike on a central Myanmar village rose to an estimated 171 victims on Friday, according to a team member involved in cremating bodies and media reports.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military toppled Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in a February 2021 coup, with an estimated 3,200 civilians killed as part of the junta’s crackdown on dissent.

There is no official death toll from Tuesday morning’s strike on Pazi Gyi village in the central Sagaing region, although military authorities confirmed they had carried out an operation in the area.

A villager involved in cremating the bodies, who asked not to be identified to protect his safety, said on Friday his team had revised its death count up to 171 from 130 a day earlier.

He told AFP 109 men, 24 women and 38 children were killed. Another 53 wounded were receiving medical care, he said.

BBC Burmese has also reported a death toll of 171, while Mandalay Free Press put the number at 170.

Myanmar’s National Unity Government, a shadow body dominated by former lawmakers from Suu Kyi’s party, tweeted a chart on Friday with a total of 168 fatalities.

Pazi Gyi was deserted on Friday, with villagers too scared to return.

The attack, which came on the eve of Thingyan, Myanmar’s Buddhist New Year water festival, drew international outrage.

The United Kingdom, Myanmar’s former colonial ruler, has called for the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss the incident.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has led so-far fruitless diplomatic efforts to resolve the Myanmar crisis, strongly condemned the air strikes on Thursday.

The Sagaing region is a rebel stronghold near Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city. It has put up some of the fiercest resistance to the military’s rule, with intense fighting raging for months.

The junta confirmed on Wednesday it had launched “limited” air strikes in the area and blamed some of the deaths on mines planted by anti-junta fighters.