At least 16 civilians including three children were killed and more than two dozen injured in the past two days when Myanmar junta troops launched artillery strikes against civilian targets including a kindergarten in Rakhine and Kayah states.
Without any provocation, the military base in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State shelled a crowd attending a child’s naming ceremony in Jitchaung Village in the township on Wednesday afternoon.
In the artillery strike, 11 civilians including two children aged 8 and 6 were killed and over 20 others injured, according to local media outlets and the ethnic Arakan Army (AA).
Of those injured, five are in critical condition, the Western News reported, citing rescue workers and residents.
Earlier that morning, four male civilians were killed and two injured when the military’s Battalion 539 shelled nearby Chaungto Village in Rakhine’s Kyauktaw Township.
By intentionally attacking civilian targets without provocation, the Myanmar military junta is brazenly committing war crimes, the AA said on Wednesday.
Last Thursday, regime forces killed 11 villagers including senior citizens during a raid on Sin Ein Gyi Village in the west of Ponnagyun Township after the AA used land mines to ambush junta soldiers.
An informal ceasefire between the AA and the regime in Rakhine State broke down last November with clashes erupting in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Ponnakyun and Mrauk-U townships and neighboring Paletwa Township in Chin State.
Since September, regime forces have escalated attacks on civilian targets.
Kindergarten shelled by junta in Kayah
A 5-year-old girl was killed and eight others including a 9-month-old baby injured in Demoso Township, Kayah State on Tuesday when three out of five artillery rounds fired by the military’s Battalion 102 hit a nursery school in the west of the township, according to residents.
Some of the victims were internally displaced people who were earlier forced to flee their homes elsewhere in the state due to raids by regime forces, according to local media and the Karenni Revolution Union, which is fighting regime forces in Kayah.
As of Wednesday, a total of 2,465 people had been killed by the military junta across the country since the coup in February last year and 16,232 people, including government leaders, arrested.
According to a June report by the UN Special Rapporteur, at least 382 children have been killed or maimed, more than 1,400 have been arbitrarily arrested and 142 have been tortured over the past one-and a-half years since the coup.