More than 50 people wounded in the junta’s air strikes in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township on Sunday, including some in critical condition, have been prevented by junta troops from being treated at hospitals in nearby towns, meaning the death toll from the raid is likely to increase.
Three junta jet fighters bombed a music concert being held in Ginsi Village on Sunday night to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)’s founding, ripping apart the stage and killing more than 60 people including a brigade commander and other KIO officials, ethnic Kachin singers and civilians. The deadly air raids on the civilian area have been widely condemned as a war crime.
Locals said the death toll was likely to increase as junta forces were obstructing efforts to send the victims to hospitals in nearby Hpakant and Myitkyina.
A local resident helping those affected said junta forces weren’t allowing the wounded to leave Ginsi, nor ambulances to get inside, leaving locals and rescuers to try and treat the wounded with the limited resources available in the village.
“Some have died from blood loss,” he said, adding that those in critical condition require immediate hospitalization.
KIO spokesperson Colonel Naw Bu confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that junta forces had set up security checkpoints and were not allowing the injured through.
“Some of the injured are critical. Our people are still finding it difficult to get treatment outside [the area],” he said.
He said the list of victims was still being compiled, but so far he could confirm at least 50 deaths and 55 wounded.
While offering condolences to the victims on Tuesday, the KIO vowed that the tragedy would only strengthen its resolve to accelerate its fight against the Myanmar military junta. It called on other ethnic armed groups to do what it necessary in their fight against the regime.
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.
Since the coup last year, the KIA has been conducting 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 has denied killing civilians in the air strikes on the Kachin concert, claiming the attack was launched as a counter operation against the KIA and People’s Defense Force groups who have joined it in attacking regime targets in Kachin State.