Myanmar Junta Kills 16 Civilians in January Blitz of Karen District  

By Hein Htoo Zan 16 February 2023

January alone saw at least 16 civilians killed when junta forces bombarded Mutraw District in Karen State with dozens of artillery and air strikes, the Karen National Union (KNU) said on Tuesday.

The KNU statement said that regime forces launched 57 air strikes on the district, which is under the control of KNU Brigades 5 and 6.

Junta fighter jets dropped over 200 bombs into civilian areas as well as firing on villages with  machine guns. The air attacks killed at least 13 civilians, including two pastors, and a two-year-old child, the KNU said.

The strikes also left nine civilians, including a four-year-old child, with critical injuries and destroyed dozens of houses and buildings, including schools, churches, monasteries and a hospital, according to the statement.

KNU said that junta’s troops and their allied Border Guard Forces also fired about 500 artillery and mortar shells into civilian areas in the district.

“These artillery attacks killed three civilians, including a student, injured 38 including six students, and burned 19 houses,” the statement said.

According to KNU data, January alone saw over 400 clashes between junta forces and the resistance led by the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), and comprising the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO), People’s Defense Forces, drone units and other groups.

KNU said that 469 junta and allied BGF troops were killed in those clashes. Meanwhile, 24 members of the KNU’s allied KNLA, KNDO, PDFs and drone units had sacrificed their lives in the clashes that broke out following the 2021 military coup.

The number of internally displaced persons in KNU-controlled areas has also risen to about 400,000, it said, adding they were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.