Three miners killed in aerial assault on KNU territory

Two military aircraft bombed a mine in Karen (Kayin) State’s Kyainseikgyi Township on Wednesday, killing three workers and injuring six others, according to the Karen National Union (KNU).

The attack targeted a lead mine in the village of Thapyu, located about 35km north of the Thai-Myanmar border town of Payathonzu, the group said.

“There were 21 miners working there at the time, and three of them were killed. Six others were injured, including a Chinese national,” said Padoh Saw Liston, the KNU secretary for Dooplaya District in Karen State, where the incident occurred.

“It wasn’t even a military target. It’s just a site where regular people go to work to feed their families,” he added.

Dooplaya District is within territory controlled by Brigade 6 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed wing of the KNU.

The mine that was hit in the attack was officially designated as Mining Block No. 6 and was one of 10 such sites in the area. 

According to Padoh Saw Liston, two residential buildings, a garage, a dining hall and several vehicles were also damaged in the bombing.

A resident of Payathonzu, which is also known as Three Pagodas Pass, told Myanmar Now that several victims of the attack were receiving treatment in the town’s hospital.

“I heard there were quite a few injured, and I saw a lot of people arriving at the hospital,” he said.

A KNLA battalion commander said that the mine was recently reopened to give locals an opportunity to earn a living. He denied that the group was profiting from its operation.

“We don’t take any profits from those mines, apart from a small tax,” he said.

Responding to reports of the incident, junta spokesperson Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said that “illegal mining activities” were being carried out at the site without the regime’s authorisation.

He added: “It can be seen clearly by some photos uploaded by media that [KNLA] Brigade 6 members in guerrilla uniforms” were at the scene of the attack.

The military also carried out airstrikes against another village in Kyainseikgyi Township in early October, destroying a local monastery and injuring at least one monk.

On October 23, an aerial assault targeting another ethnic armed group opposed to the regime, the Kachin Independence Organisation, left more than 60 people dead in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township.

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