Myanmar junta continues aerial attacks on Sagaing schools

Regime forces launched aerial assaults on two schools in Sagaing Region’s Kalay and Kawlin townships earlier this week, injuring several people, according to local sources.

On Monday, an attack helicopter fired on a school in Shu Khin Thar, a village located some 20km north of the town of Kalay, at around 10am.

Four people—three men and a woman—sustained multiple injuries in that attack, which was the first ever reported in the village of around 200 households.

It was unclear why the village was targeted, but residents said it appeared to be related to a meeting that was being held at the school.

“I think someone leaked information to the junta, as they only attacked the school and nowhere else,” said a local man who did not want to be identified.

Myanmar Now was unable to confirm if the people inside the school at the time of the attack were members of any resistance organisation.

Later the same day, junta troops based in Kalay fired several rounds of heavy artillery at Letpanchaung, a village near Shu Khin Thar, injuring three more people and forcing residents to flee, local sources said.

A day earlier, another school was bombed in Kawlin Township, some 200km northeast of Kalay, after junta troops there came under repeated attack by local resistance forces.

Several buildings sustained heavy damage after the school in the village of Taung Ba Lu came under attack at around 7pm on Sunday, an officer of the anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now.

“The bomb didn’t fall right on the main building, but landed in the compound, destroying several buildings,” said the PDF officer.

Some damage was also reported in the nearby village of Chaung Kway, which was bombed at around the same time. No casualties were reported in either village.

The attacks came after a full day of fighting between resistance forces and a junta column of around 250 soldiers that was returning to its base in Koe Taung Boe, a village about 15km south of Kawlin, after a week of raids in the area.

Several PDF battalions took part in the clashes, which began at around 8am and continued through the day, according to the PDF officer.

About three hours before the junta aircraft arrived, troops based in Wuntho, north of Kawlin, fired on resistance positions with Howitzer guns in support of the column from Koe Taung Boe, he added.

Several regime soldiers were killed and a number of PDF troops were injured in the fighting, which reportedly lasted until the column reached Koe Taung Boe at around 11pm.

This week’s airstrikes were just the latest targeting schools in Sagaing Region, which has been a stronghold of the resistance movement since the military seized power in February 2021.

Last month, there were at least three similar attacks in the region: one on a high school in the village of the Htan Taw Bodi in Ye-U Township on May 9; another on a high school in Chaung Ma, a village in Kani Township, on May 17; and a third on a school in Pauk Inn Myaing, also in Kani Township, on May 31.

Civilian casualties, including children, were reported in all three incident, which are part of a pattern of indiscriminate killing by regime forces since the coup.

In September of last year, at least 13 civilians, including seven children, were killed in a brutal aerial assault on a school in the village of Letyetkone in Depayin Township. 

Despite coming under strong international condemnation for that attack, the regime has shown no signs of relenting in its targeting of schools.

In April, another airstrike on a school in Webula, a village in Chin State’s Falam Township, left nine people dead, including the principal of the school and his wife.

The next day, a single attack on the village of Pa Zi Gyi in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township left at least 160 people, including dozens of children, dead.

Myanmar’s academic year began last Thursday, raising fears that more children may be killed in junta attacks on schools, especially those run by local groups opposed to the regime.

Myanmar Now News