The Myanmar military on Tuesday afternoon shelled a monastery where some 1,500 civilians were sheltering from recent violence in Sagaing Region’s Kalay Township, just hours after its soldiers bombed a different Buddhist compound elsewhere in the region.
Ten people including three children were badly injured when four heavy artillery shells landed at the monastery in Nat Myaung village at around 1pm, two witnesses told Myanmar Now. The injured also included a woman whose skull was broken open, said one of them.
“We saw that the woman was in a very bad shape when we were covering up her head injury with a shirt, we could even see her brain,” he said.
He added: “A toddler was also hit in his eyelid and it’s swollen now. A woman was hit by shrapnel in her buttocks. A eight-or-nine-year-old child was hit in the hand, chest and thigh. The others were hit in the arms.”
Three other women and six children sustained minor injuries in the attack, said a 30-year-old man who also witnessed the explosions.
Three of the military’s shells landed in the monastery’s compound while one hit the main building. It was this shell that caused all the injuries, the man said. The injured were sent to Kalay Hospital for treatment.
After launching the shells at Nat Myaung, the soldiers reportedly shot a civilian dead as they headed away from the village, other residents of the area told Myanmar Now. Forty-year-old Zaw Min Naing was found on a farm with bullet wounds in his head and stomach and was cremated on Tuesday evening, they said.
Lots of people in the area want to flee because they fear more attacks but do not have the financial means to do so, said one man. “Many people here are living paycheck to paycheck on daily wages,” he said. “They don’t have enough money to move elsewhere. We are basically waiting for our deaths now.”
People have been staying in tarpaulin tents inside the monastery and are in urgent need of electrolyte powder and other medication, he said, adding that some have been there for almost four months.
Last week the junta cut off internet access to the majority of Sagaing Region, including Nat Myaung and other villages in the south of Kalay. It has since launched several ferocious assaults across the region, often directly targeting civilians.
The attack adds to widespread evidence that the junta is deliberately bombing civilians, including those who are fleeing and sheltering from conflict, as part of its nationwide campaign of terror.
Earlier on Tuesday two children and four others were killed when junta soldiers shelled a monastery in Sagaing’s Yinmabin Township. And three children, all siblings, were killed the same day when junta soldiers shelled a village near the Kayah capital of Loikaw.
On Saturday the military fired heavy artillery at an area where displaced people were staying in Taze Township’s Myauk Inn village. Soldiers then abducted five people.
That same day, two young children, two teenagers and a pregnant woman were among seven killed when the junta shelled a village in Karen State. The Karen Peace Support Network labelled the attack “a war crime and a crime against humanity.”