Myanmar military launches 20 airstrikes during ASEAN Air Chiefs conference

The junta targeted a monastery in one attack, killing the abbot.
By RFA Burmese
Myanmar military launches 20 airstrikes during ASEAN Air Chiefs conference The monastery in Kha Yan Sat Kone village, Indaw township, Sagaing region, targeted by a junta airstrike on Sept. 15, 2023 .
Indaw Revolution

Myanmar’s military kept up its campaign of airstrikes even during the controversial ASEAN Air Chiefs conference, to which four countries decided not to send a representative. There were 20 air attacks during the three-day event, locals and ethnic armed groups told Radio Free Asia on Monday.

The conference took place from Sept. 13-15 led by junta Air Force chief Gen. Tun Aung. Air Force chiefs from Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand attended, while Singapore and the Philippines sent video messages. Malaysia and Indonesia boycotted the event.

Meanwhile the junta’s brutal air campaign continued with airstrikes on Sagaing region’s Indaw, Pale and Ayadaw townships. The air force also attacked Mogoke township in Mandalay region and Kyaukkyi township in eastern Bago region.

In Indaw, junta planes attacked a monastery in Kha Yan Sat Kone village on Friday, following up with a heavy artillery bombardment.

The 77-year-old abbot Rajinda and 42-year-old laybrother Win Thein died in the attack, according to a local who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals.

“The monastery was bombed by an airplane,” the local said.

“Seconds later, the junta fired a Howitzer at the same monastery killing the abbot …That’s why the whole village had to sleep outside the village on the night of September 15. 

“Now they have returned to the village as they have to cremate the abbot. The abbot’s head was split and the civilian was hit in the chest,” said the man, adding that there had been no fighting in the area before the attack. 

Three junta helicopters carried out 13 airstrikes on villages in Bago region’s Kyaukkyi township, according to a Karen National Union statement Friday.

More than 5,000 residents from six villages were forced to flee to escape the bombardement, the statement said.

A local resident, who didn’t want to be named for security reasons, told RFA that people are still unwilling to return to their homes because they are afraid of more airstrikes. They are staying in nearby villages and the forest.

On Friday night, a jet fighter fired on a village in Mandalay region's Mogoke township for 15 minutes, residents told RFA Burmese.

They said the junta launched the attack following a battle with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

A spokesperson for the ethnic armed group, Lt. Col. Mong Aik Kyaw, said the junta has stepped up its air campaign recently.

“We have seen more airstrikes from their side,” he said.

“Now they are attacking civilian targets. Last month, a jet fighter came and attacked Taung Gyaw hill where there was no fighting.”

He added that since July 23, there have been more than 40 clashes between the junta army and the TNLA.

Calls to junta Deputy Information Minister Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun went unanswered.

The Air Force chiefs who attended the ASEAN conference in Naypyitaw discussed regional security and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw spokesperson Sithu Maung said all ASEAN members should have boycotted the conference.

“Airstrikes targeting civilians, not military targets are war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said the representative of the committee which is made up of members of the National League for Democracy and other lawmakers ousted in the February 2021 coup.

“If they attended the conference knowing of this situation it would encourage violence.”

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.


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