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Myanmar strikes kill 32, mostly women and children: UN

Myanmar's military has denied targeting civilians. [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 April, 2020

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The UN said 32 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed in air strikes by Myanmar's military amid clashes with insurgents.
The United Nations said air strikes by Myanmar's military and insurgents have killed at least 32 civilians, mostly women and children, Reuters reported on Friday, adding that troops have also been destroying homes and schools.

The air strikes were conducted amid intensified clashes between the army and insurgents in Myanmar's Rakhine and Chin states. Rakhine state is home to the country's Muslim Rohingya population, which has long been subjected to state persecution and genocide.

"Myanmar's military has been carrying out almost daily air strikes and shelling in populated areas resulting in at least 32 deaths and 71 injuries since 23 March, the majority women and children, and they have also been destroying and burning schools and homes," UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva press conference.

Colville said getting precise information from Rakhine was difficult, as the state has been subjected to an internet blackout since June 2019.

"So as to whether the reported casualties are a result of targeting or were caught in the crossfire between the Arakan Army and Myanmar government army, it's not entirely clear," he said.

Myanmar's military denied targeting civilians.

For over a year, Myanmar's military has been clashing with the Arakan Army, a rebel group seeking more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists. In January, two Rohingya women were killed and seven others injured in shelling during clashes between Myanmar's troops and insurgents.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, international calls for a ceasefire in Myanmar have amplified. Myanmar has reported 85 cases of Covid-19 and four deaths, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported the Arakan Army, along with two other ethnic armed groups, declared a month-long ceasefire for April due to the pandemic. The military rejected the ceasefire, with a spokesman citing a previous truce that was disregarded by insurgents.

Earlier this month, cases against scores of Rohingya Muslims detained after fleeing Rakhine state were dropped amid coronavirus fears.

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