Airstrike Tragedy and Crucial Talks on the Horizon

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 07, 2024 by MoeMaKa Media

Airstrike Tragedy and Crucial Talks on the Horizon

Tragedy struck the village of Kanan in Tamu Township, Sagaing Division, as at least 15 civilians lost their lives in an airstrike conducted by the military council, according to recent reports.

The targeted airstrike hit a school just as the People’s Defense Force (PDF) defense forces were preparing for a graduation dinner in the predominantly Chin ethnic village near Khampat Town in Tamu Township. Instead of hitting the intended PDF gathering, the strike claimed the lives of ordinary civilians, including 5 children. Witnesses recounted that the airstrike occurred on a Sunday afternoon when people were returning from church, resulting in the immediate death of approximately 8 individuals.

Some PDF members revealed that the military council, acting on information about the PDF graduation dinner at a school, launched the attack on the wrong building, leading to the tragic loss of civilian lives. The military council’s intensified aerial assaults follow the PDF’s capture of Khampat town last month, prompting retaliatory attacks after the council failed to reclaim the territory. With diminished ground capabilities, the military council resorts to increased airstrikes, targeting ethnic armed groups (EROs) and PDFs to destabilize captured towns.

Aerial attacks have become a daily occurrence not only in villages along the Indian border but also in conflict zones and areas controlled by armed forces resisting the military council. Frequent airstrikes persist in locations like Namhkam and Hsenwi in Kachin State, Waimaw Township in Kachin State’s Sagaing Division, Natthankwin in Bago Division, and others, resulting in daily civilian casualties.

The military council’s strategy involves preventing armed forces from gaining control in areas where their dominance has waned by launching airstrikes and disrupting the ability of local residents to thrive under EROs or PDFs due to the constant threat of air assaults. The toll from these daily airstrikes ranges from a few to potentially hundreds of lives lost.

Despite the National Unity Government’s efforts to establish air defenses and campaigns to cut off jet fuel supplies, tangible results remain elusive. Jet fuel procurement by the military council persists, complicating efforts to convince the international community to impose an arms embargo or restrict the sale of non-weapon items such as fuel.

On a diplomatic front, from January 7 to 9, representatives of the Military Council’s National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) and the 3 northern Brotherhood Alliances are set to meet in China’s Yunnan Province. The outcome of this meeting holds significant importance, given the previous unsuccessful attempts at reaching a ceasefire agreement. Despite China’s mediation, armed attacks have escalated, resulting in the military council losing control of key territories.

The upcoming talks may carry a sense of urgency as the 3 northern Brotherhood Alliances hold a military advantage, potentially making the discussions more challenging and pivotal in shaping the trajectory of the conflict.