At least 29 people, including young children, have been killed in an attack on a camp for displaced people in Myanmar’s Kachin state, according to media reports and two local activists.Dozens more people were injured in the attack, which happened at about 11.30pm on Monday night in Kachin, Myanmar’s northernmost state, it was reported. Unverified images on social media, showed men carrying victims, including a small child, from the rubble in the darkness.
The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), a political group that has long sought greater autonomy for the Kachin ethnic minority, said 29 people had been killed and 57 injured. This included 11 children under the age of 16. It said the attack was from heavy artillery, not an airstrike as some had previously suggested.
Estimates of the death toll have varied. A Kachin activist based in Laiza, who spoke anonymously, earlier told the Guardian 33 people had been killed, including 13 children. A three-month-old baby was among the victims, she said.
She added that the death toll could rise further because the camp covered a large area and volunteers were still recovering bodies. Homes in the camps were built on mountains, she added, and so houses had become buried under the soil.
“Houses in the camp are very closed to each other, so the situation is totally messed up,” she said, adding that the attack was only the latest of the military’s “inhumane acts”.“There are many cases like this. This is not the only case,” she said.
The attack took place at Mung Lai Hkyet IDP camp, a few kilometres from a military base run by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military wing of the KIO and one of many groups fighting against Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in 2021.
The area, near the border with China, has been the scene of frequent armed clashes over recent months. The UN has warned of limited humanitarian access in Kachin state and many other areas of the country, describing a dire level of need.A second Kachin activist based in Laiza, who spoke to the Guardian from a hospital treating the injured, said: “The whole block of the camp has disappeared. It is like a big hole has been left in the earth, and houses were smashed.
“My house is around six miles away from the Mung Lai Hkyet IDP camp. But my house was also shaking. The ceilings and doors of houses in Laiza collapsed.”She was at the hospital helping doctors with logistics but said she could not bring herself to look at the victims. “I can’t be emotional as I need to continue working,” she said. “I saw three young kids who lost their mothers. I do not dare to look at the kids.”