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US envoy 'deeply concerned' over Myanmar bombings during Ramadan

Fighting is reported in the north, east and western fronts in the civil war-hit nation
A family cook amid the debris following fighting between Myanmar's military and armed rebels in northern Shan state on Feb. 4.

A family cook amid the debris following fighting between Myanmar's military and armed rebels in northern Shan state on Feb. 4. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 22, 2024 11:27 AM GMT
Updated: March 22, 2024 11:47 AM GMT

Heavy fighting between the Myanmar military and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) was reported from several states on March 22 as the United States Ambassador at Large Rashad Hussain expressed deep concern over the killings of at least 20 Rohingyas, including children.

Twenty-three ethnic Rohingyas were killed earlier this week in Minbya Township in western Rakhine state after a junta warplane dropped two bombs on Thardar Village. Another 33 were wounded and were being cared for by the Arakan Army.

Hussain said he was “deeply concerned” by reports that more than 20 Rohingya, including children, were killed in an attack on their village in Rakhine amid heavy fighting and aerial bombardments by the military.

“After decades of repression, and two years after our genocide and crimes against humanity determination, Rohingya and marginalized populations must be protected in Burma [Myanmar],” Hussain said in an online post.

“Even during Ramadan, Rohingya face incomprehensible adversity yet maintain their faith with bravery and grace,” he said.

Unconfirmed reports also claimed that an airstrike killed six civilians, including children, and injured seven others in western Arakan state. The LaEi hospital, which treats internally displaced people (IDPs) in northeast Shan state, was also struck with 500-pound bombs on March 22 morning amid a military build-up in the area.

The Karenni Human Rights Group singled out and condemned that attack, adding that “several rounds of gunfire” were shot at people attempting to flee the hospital.

The PDF claims it has inflicted a heavy toll with at least 43 Myanmar junta soldiers killed in Kayah state and in the Sagaing, Mandalay and Magwe regions this week, while 40 junta soldiers had fled across the border into Thailand on March 20.

Independent military analyst Ross Milosevic said the junta under General Aung Min Hlaing is suffering from a loss of manpower through battlefield defeats and defections, which is seriously affecting morale and their capabilities.

“From what I’ve heard from the frontlines, from the north, east and western fronts the junta is losing a lot of ground. Villages and military posts are being overrun and their soldiers are being forced to pull back,” he told UCA News.

“Yesterday, I’m told, there was a whole detachment of soldiers that walked across the border into Thailand. So this is happening more and more, on a daily basis, on all three fronts but mainly in the east and west of the country,” he said.

Milosevic also said the military’s recent introduction of conscription had backfired with targeted conscripts opting to join the ranks of the PDF or the ethnic armies fighting alongside as opposed to fighting for the junta.

“No matter how you look at it, it’s not going well for the military,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations special rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews has again urged further coordinated sanctions be applied against General Hlaing and his military saying the junta is facing an “existential threat”.

“Those who have bet on the junta to restore order and stability in Myanmar have made a losing bet,” he said. “The junta is the principal driver of violence, instability, economic decline, and lawlessness in the country.”

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