‘Everything was destroyed’ in junta attack on Kachin State village 

Locals say that Munglai Hkyet, located three miles from the KIA headquarters in Laiza, is ‘unlivable’ after the military drops multiple bombs or shells on the village in a midnight assault

A village near Myanmar’s border with China that was targeted in a lethal junta attack on Monday night has become “no longer liveable,” two survivors told Myanmar Now on Tuesday.

At least 29 people were confirmed dead in the military assault on 50-household Munglai Hkyet, where 100 displaced families had also been sheltering in a camp. The village is located less than three miles north of the Laiza headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic armed organisation which has been fighting the Myanmar army for decades. 

However, locals pointed out that there are no KIA posts in the immediate vicinity, emphasising that Munglai Hkyet was a civilian target.  

Although a KIA spokesperson initially suspected that the attack was a drone strike, Myanmar Now is still unable to confirm what type of weaponry, artillery or rockets were deployed.

Based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and other KIA sources, the assault was not an airstrike.

The survivors said that the first shell or bomb exploded at around 11:30pm, while most people were sleeping. As they awoke and fled the blast, at least four more followed.  

“I had to struggle a lot to run after the first one hit. It was really difficult to remove all of the [wreckage] pressing down on me,” a woman from Munglai Hkyet told Myanmar Now by phone. “The [house] had no door anymore. I ran into the streets and hid in a trench.”

She added that she couldn’t distinguish what kind of weaponry was used. 

“I don’t know where the attacks came from. I just knew there were sounds of artillery fire over our heads.”

When she returned to inspect her home on Tuesday morning, she was confronted by a huge crater around 20 feet deep into which the house and those of her neighbours had collapsed. 

Images shared on social media depicting the aftermath of the incident show extensive destruction and a large pit in the ground. One photo showed a man carrying the body of an infant covered in dust and debris. Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify the authenticity of the images.

“Everything in our village was destroyed. Nothing left. It’s no longer liveable. Even chicken and pig farms were all destroyed,” the woman said. 

A 33-year-old volunteer teacher who also survived the midnight attack described a similar scene of the aftermath on Tuesday. She said that she knew the victims well and that one of her students—a nine-year-old boy—was killed alongside his mother. 

“I felt so sad looking at his body. I think he was buried after the house collapsed. I didn’t see major wounds on him,” she recalled.

At least 11 children, five boys and six girls ranging in age from infancy to 18 years old, were reported among the casualties. 

“No one dares to stay in the village now. Everyone is looking at their houses, crying and sobbing. My house is unlivable now… I feel like my future is gone, looking at all the houses that have been destroyed,” the teacher said. 

Earlier on Tuesday, KIA spokesperson Naw Bu named the junta as the perpetrator of the attack. Regime spokesperson Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun responded to the accusation in pro-army media outlets by saying that the military was still investigating the reason for the “explosion” in Laiza, denying responsibility. 

“The Tatmadaw could launch attacks against any headquarters of the armed rebels, but so far, we have not,” Zaw Min Tun said, referring to the military by the name it calls itself. 

Monday’s military assault was the deadliest on KIA territory since the junta’s bombing of a community event in A Nang Pa, Hpakant Township, in October last year. More than 60 people were killed in that incident.

According to an October 9 report released by the civil society group Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT), nearly 200 civilians were killed or injured between mid-2022 and July of this year in junta aerial attacks in Kachin and northern Shan states. KWAT also reported that nearly 14,000 villagers in the region had been displaced by military violence over the past 15 months. 

KWAT spokesperson Ja Ing said that the junta has increasingly resorted to attacks on civilians as it is losing through conventional warfare against resistance forces allied with the KIA. 


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