Report: Myanmar Used Fuel-Air Explosive Against Civilians

    Report: Myanmar Used Fuel-Air Explosive Against Civilians
    Last updated May 11, 2023
    Image credit: Kyunhla Activists Group [via AP]


    • Human Rights Watch on Tuesday alleged that Myanmar's military dropped a fuel-air explosive — also known as a thermobaric or vacuum bomb — in an airstrike that killed over 160 civilians last month, violating international humanitarian law and possibly amounting to a war crime.[1]
    • The group based its conclusion on 59 photos of corpses and a video of the site after the strike, as well as eight photographs and two videos of the remnants of the weapons posted online and presented by the opposition National Unity Government (NUG).[2]
    • Roughly 300 people, including children, were at the event to observe the opening ceremony of a civilian administrative office outside Pazigyi village in the Sagaing region on April 11 when the strike occurred.[3]
    • Survivors reported that a military jet dropped at least one munition, which exploded as the crowd gathered around the opposition-controlled building, with a helicopter gunship subsequently firing cannons, grenades, and rockets into the fleeing mass.[4]
    • Myanmar's military claimed responsibility for the airstrike on the same day in state media, arguing that it had targeted members of the NUG-backed People's Defense Forces (PDF) and the fatalities were the result of their strikes hitting PDF explosives and landmines.[3]
    • This is reportedly one of the deadliest single incidents so far in the civil war, which has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced 1.4M people. Data from the conflict-monitoring group ACLED indicates that there were at least 600 air attacks by the military from February 2021 to January 2023.[5]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Regional stakeholders such as ASEAN and China have sought to smooth things over to ensure peace and stability in Myanmar, but Western support for armed resistance and extremist political action have bolstered pro-NUG militants to descend the country into civil war. Myanmar is in chaos, and the NUG's calls for revolution will only make it worse.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The international community must remain firm against Myanmar's war-criminal military rule, imposing further coordinated sanctions on the junta and supporting the pro-democracy shadow National Unity Government. Otherwise, the military will continue to step up its aerial offensive to indiscriminately kill civilians and violently suppress resistance to its takeover.

    Establishment split



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