Military airstrikes in Myanmar at a concert by a large ethnic rebel group have killed about 50 people and injured 70, the rebels said Monday.
“Sunday around 8:40pm (2:40pm GMT), two Myanmar military jets” attacked a ceremony held by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Colonel Naw Bu told AFP.
“About 50 people were killed, including KIA members and civilians,” he said, adding that about 70 were injured.
Local media reported that up to 60 soldiers and civilians had been killed.
Images shared by local media are said to show the aftermath, with debris on the ground.
The United Nations office in Myanmar said it was “deeply concerned and saddened by reports of airstrikes taking place in Hpakant, Kachin State”.
“Early reports suggest that more than 100 civilians may have been affected by the bombing,” the statement said.
“Numerous fatalities have also been reported,” it added.
A junta spokesman did not respond to the request for comment.
The US embassy in Yangon said it was “in response to reports of a military airstrike on a rally in Kachin that killed a large number of civilians”.
The KIA has regularly clashed with the military for decades, with fierce fighting erupting in the wake of last year’s coup.
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Myanmar has been in turmoil since a military coup last year that left parts of the country engulfed in fighting.
Reports of the strikes come days before Southeast Asian foreign ministers will hold emergency talks to discuss conflict-torn Myanmar ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit in November.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has so far spearheaded fruitless efforts to resolve the crisis, and the bloc is frustrated by the escalating human rights atrocities.
In September, at least 11 schoolchildren were killed in a military airstrike and shelling against a Myanmar village in the northern Sagaing region.
The junta said it sent troops in helicopters to Let Yet Kone after receiving a tip that fighters from the KIA and a local anti-coup militia were moving weapons in the area.
Several of Myanmar’s numerous ethnic rebel groups have supported the anti-coup movement, sheltering and even training activists.
Last May, the KIA said it had shot down a military attack helicopter during violent clashes near the town of Momauk in the far north of the country.
More than 2,300 people have been killed in the army’s crackdown on dissent since the coup, according to a local control group, and more than 15,000 have been arrested.
The junta blames anti-coup fighters for the deaths of nearly 3,900 civilians.