The Burma Army launched a surprise airstrike on a ceremony organized by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in Hpakant Township, causing at least 50 casualties including officials of the KIO’s armed wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and civilian artists. The airstrike occurred while civilians and KIA personnel gathered to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the KIO’s founding on the night of Oct. 23 in the territory of the KIA’s 9th Brigade in Hpakant. “Top officers from the [KIA’s] 6th Battalion and the 9th Brigade were also among those killed…Kachin singers, actors, and other locals who were invited died as well,” a KIA official told DVB.
Famous Kachin singer Aurali is said to be among the dead and was killed on the spot while he was performing. “They [the Burma Army] came with three fighter jets. He [Aurali] was shot while he was singing on the stage. There were a lot of casualties. Kachin actor Zaw Tein died in the hospital. Over 50 people have died. The number of injured is over 50,” a local said. Some Kachin people have criticized the KIO’s decision to hold the celebration while fighting between the KIA and the military council has intensified across Kachin State. “It is not the time for celebrations. The whole country is fighting for the revolution against the military regime,” a local claimed.