2 hours ago
At least 11 children have been killed and 15 others are missing after Myanmar’s military helicopter gunships attacked a school in the northern Sagaing region, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said.
The military government said they were attacking insurgents hiding in the school.
Photos posted on social media show bullet holes and blood stains at the school.
The BBC correspondent reports that the attack, which was conducted by a Buddhist monastery in the northern village of Let Yet Koon, took place last Friday, but the incident was reported for the first time on Tuesday.
This school taught children from kindergarten to adolescence.
According to the correspondent, the area where the attack took place has been witnessing massive armed resistance against the army since last year’s coup.
The BBC’s Burmese service previously confirmed that at least six children were killed in the attack. Among them, two boys are seven and 14 years old, and three girls are seven, nine and 11 years old. Another 13-year-old boy who was fishing nearby was also shot.
Most of the children’s bodies were taken away by Burmese soldiers.
BBC Burmese reported that six villagers, including five men and one woman, were also killed in army firing.
According to a report by the news agency Reuters, the pictures spread on social media showed deep bullet holes and blood stains on the walls of the school.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF says school children have been killed due to indiscriminate firing from helicopters. The organization called for the immediate release of the 15 missing children.
“Although details are still being sought, UNICEF’s condolences go out to the bereaved parents and families,” the agency said in a statement on Monday.
“Schools must be kept safe. Children should never be attacked.”
Other news from BBC Bengal:
According to an international NGO, more than two hundred schools have been attacked in Myanmar so far this year.
In February last year, the Myanmar military dramatically overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Assistance Association for the Political Prisoners (Burma) reports that more than 1500 people have been killed since the coup.
Observers say the bloody fighting in Myanmar is also hinting at the start of a civil war this year.
In many parts of the country, government forces have faced stiff resistance from guerrilla forces called the People’s Defense Force (PDF).
The BBC’s South Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says that the Myanmar forces are regularly carrying out air and helicopter attacks in these areas. They are struggling to deal with guerrilla forces supported by the local populace.
The BBC’s Burmese Service reports that the use of heavy weapons by the military against the civilian population is a sign of a major change in the military government’s tactics.
Most of the people in the area where the latest attack took place are members of the majority Burman ethnic group. People from this ethnic group make up the majority of Myanmar’s military.
As a result, as rebel activities have started from among them, it is understood that their attitude towards the military government is changing.