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Myanmar army opens fire at school, at least six children dead

At least six children were killed and 17 wounded when Myanmar army helicopters shot up a school in the village of Let Yet Kone in the central Sagaing region on Friday, September 16.

According to local media and residents, the school which was housed in a Buddhist monastery was fired at because the military believed it was being used by rebels from the Kachin Independence Army (PDF) as a base.

Armed opposition to the authorities emerged when a military junta toppled the legitimate government last year. The army has been violently cracking down on the rebels.

Some children had been killed on the spot. Others reportedly died after troops entered the village. Local residents said that the army collected the bodies and transported them to a township located 11 kilometres away for burial.

According to junta sources, the helicopter was sent to the area to conduct what they had termed “a surprise inspection”, and was shot upon from inside the houses and from the monastery where the school was located. The military confirmed that civilians were killed as a result of the helicopter responding with fire. They also accused the rebels of using villagers as human shields and said that weapons, including 16 handmade bombs, had been seized as a result of the search that followed.

Myanmar’s pro-democracy shadow government, known as the National Unity Government (NUG), accuses the junta of “targeted attacks” on schools and called for the release of 20 students and teachers it says have been arrested following the air strikes.

Documented attacks on schools surged to around 190 in 2021 up from 10 the year before, according to Save the Children NGO. According to a report by the organisation, both the military and the rebels use schools across the country as bases, both disrupting education and endangering children.

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