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50 killed in rebel assembly by Myanmar army airstrike

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On Tuesday, the Myanmar military launched an airstrike on an event attended by dissidents, killing 50 people in central Myanmar, local resistance members and media reported.

Citing residents of Sagaing district, BBC Burmese, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Irrawaddy news portal reported that between 50 and 100 people, including civilians, were killed in the attack.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports, and a spokesman for the ruling military did not return a call seeking comment.

Myanmar has been witnessing turmoil since the 2021 coup, as the armies of ethnic minorities and resistance fighters launched attacks against the army’s rule, which responded with air strikes and heavy weapons, including in civilian areas.

A member of the local People’s Defense Forces, an anti-junta militia, told Reuters that female fighters fired on a party held to open their local office.

“So far, the exact number of victims is still unknown. We cannot recover all the bodies yet,” said the PDF member, who requested anonymity.

The United Nations says at least 1.2 million people have been displaced by the fighting that followed the coup.

Tuesday’s incident may be one of the deadliest among the series of airstrikes since a jet bombed a concert in October, killing at least 50 civilians, local singers and members of an armed minority ethnic group in Kachin State.

Myanmar’s pro-democracy National Unity Government condemned the attack, describing it as “another example of the army’s indiscriminate use of excessive force against civilians”.

Last month, at least eight civilians including children were killed in an air strike on a village in northwest Myanmar, according to a human rights group, ethnic minority rebels and media outlets.

The army denied international allegations of atrocities against civilians and said it was fighting “terrorists” bent on destabilizing the country.

Western countries have imposed sanctions on the military council and its vast business network in an attempt to choke off its revenues and access to weapons from key suppliers such as Russia.

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