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Kachin recount the devastation at Munglai Hkyet IDP camp

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

On Oct. 9, Arr Tone and her children survived and fled the scene of the bombing that claimed the lives of 29 civilians and injured 57 others living at Munglai Hkyet Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located three kms north of Laiza, Kachin State – the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA).

“More than 20 acres were devastated, and an area of about 200 feet [60 meters] turned into a massive crater,” said Arr Tone.”I usually hear the sound of jets [at night], but that night, there was silence.” 

Munglai Hkyet IDP camp has been home to residents from Nam Sanyan village of Waingmaw Township since 2011, when the 17-year ceasefire between the Burma Army and the KIA ended. 

The IDP camp’s population has grown again since the 2021 military coup, as the Burma Army began targeting the KIA due to its support and training of the People’s Defense Force (PDF), resistance fighters from across the country who fled to KIA-controlled areas following the military crackdown on peaceful anti-coup protests.

Since July, the Burma Army has resumed fighting the KIA, and its allied PDF, in Kachin State. The KIA headquarters of Laiza, located on the China-Burma border, and surrounding areas have come under intense attack.

The explosion on Oct. 9 – was at first assumed to have been an airstrike due to the extensive death toll and damage but later was confirmed to have been a bombing – was one of the most powerful to have hit this area of northern Kachin State. 

“Houses fell one by one. It looked like a pile of rubble with dead bodies [underneath]. You could hear children’s cries from beneath the debris,” said a witness to the devastation in the Munglai Hkyet IDP camp. 

In October 2022, 60 people were killed in an airstrike at a KIA anniversary concert in A Nang Pa, Hpakant Township over 254 kms northwest of Laiza. This means that two massacres in the last two years have been perpetrated in Kachin State killing nearly 100 people. The KIA spokesperson Naw Bu called it an act of genocide against the Kachin.

Arr Tone appealed to the international community to help put an end to the military attacks on civilians. “Our entire village has been obliterated. Electricity is gone. Homes are in ruins. Roads are damaged. Churches [have been] destroyed. The preschool is in ruins, and village clinics are completely demolished,” she added.

The U.N., the U.S., Canada, and France have condemned the attack. A group of former U.N. officials, known as Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M), and Amnesty International repeated the condemnation.

Regime spokesperson Zaw Min Tun blamed the explosion on a storage facility owned by KIA, but Amnesty International contradicted this claim, stating that a “massive unguided bomb” was used in the attack. It goes on to state that this ​​may have constituted a war crime. 

“We, the people, have been suffering for quite a long time [because of war],” concluded Arr Tone.

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