(Rangoon) The military junta in Burma has confirmed that it carried out an airstrike which left dozens dead in a village in the center of the country in an area held by the rebels.
“There was an opening ceremony of a People’s Defense Force (PDF) office… (Tuesday) morning around 8 a.m. in Pazi Gyi village. We attacked this place,” confirmed junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun overnight Tuesday-Wednesday.
According to him, some of the dead were uniformed anti-coup fighters and he acknowledged “there could be people wearing civilian clothes”.
“According to the information we have obtained on the ground, the people killed are not just because of our attack. There were mines planted by the PDFs around this area,” he said, adding that the airstrike also hit a gunpowder and mine storage area.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said he was “horrified” after the attack and the world body called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
“It appears that children who were dancing, along with other civilians, at the opening ceremony of a center in Pazi Gyi village, Kanbalu district, were among the casualties,” Turk said. in a press release.
At least 50 dead and dozens injured have been reported by BBC Burmese, The Irrawaddy and Radio Free Asia, but the death toll could be as high as 100, according to a rescue worker from an armed rebel group contacted by AFP.
Before military aircraft strafed the village of Pazi Gyi, dozens of residents had gathered to mark the opening of a Local Defense Force office.
The Sagaing region, near Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, is fiercely resisting the junta, and intense fighting has been going on there for months.