(CNN)Children were among those killed and injured in airstrikes by Myanmar’s military on an ethnic rebel-controlled area in the country’s southeast, a humanitarian aid group said Tuesday, as junta forces stepped up their offensive in the region.
Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a February 1 coup, has been conducting airstrikes in southeastern Karen state since Saturday night, forcing thousands of residents to flee into the jungles.Many of the villages targeted are controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic armed group that holds large swathes of territory in the borderlands.A 5-year-old boy died in a bombing on Sunday, and a 12-year-old girl was hit in the face by bomb shrapnel, according to relief organization Free Burma Rangers (FBR). The girl had come to Day Bu Noh village to attend school, the group said. Anguish in Myanmar after weekend of 'outrageous' bloodshedA high school in Dwe Lo Township was destroyed in an airstrike on Monday, but no casualties were reported as the students were in hiding, FBR said. Then on Tuesday, six people were killed and 11 injured by airstrikes near Hsaw Hti township.Read MoreIn a statement Tuesday, the KNU condemned the Myanmar military’s bombing campaign. “Villagers, including underage children, have been killed by airstrikes,” the KNU statement said. “Many are injured.”CNN has not been able to independently verify these reports.Myanmar has been thrown into turmoil since Gen. Min Aung Hlaing ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and installed a military junta two months ago. Protesters have taken to the streets nearly every day, and workers in various sectors including health care and transport have gone on strike, disrupting the economy. The military has responded by embarking on a systematic and bloody crackdown, shooting unarmed civilians in the street, while carrying out beatings, arbitrary detentions and nighttime raids on the homes of suspected opposition members. This weekend saw the bloodiest crackdown yet, with at least 114 people killed on Saturday. Residents fleeing the violence have fled to several neighboring countries, including Thailand and India. Myanmar security forces have killed at least 521 people since the coup, with more than 2,600 detained, according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).Rebel groups in ethnic statesMore than two dozen ethnic armed groups have been fighting against the Myanmar military — known as the Tatmadaw — and each other, for greater rights and autonomy on and off for 70 years. Fighting in some of these regions has increased since the coup. Many ethnic armed groups, including the KNU, have come out in support of the protests and condemned the military takeover. The KNU said it attacked a military outpost near the border with Thailand on Saturday morning.In its statement Tuesday, the KNU said it tookover the outpost “to stop the terrorizing of villagers and allow people to return safely to their communities.” The rebels said Myanmar military troops were now moving into KNU-held areas, despite a ceasefire in place since 2015. “Thousands of Burma military ground troops are advancing into our territories from all fronts,” the KNU statement said. “We have no other options left but to confront these serious threats posed by the illegitimate military junta’s army in order to defend our territory.” Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters wearing face paint stand near a burning barricade during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, on Tuesday, March 30.Hide Caption 1 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers walk toward anti-coup protesters during a demonstration in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 2 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters run to avoid the military in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 3 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man rides his bike as smoke billows from burning barricades in Yangon on March 30.Hide Caption 4 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters throw stones and use slingshots as security forces approached in Yangon on Sunday, March 28.Hide Caption 5 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises after anti-coup protesters burned tires in Yangon on Saturday, March 27.Hide Caption 6 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters make incendiary devices during an anti-coup rally in Yangon.Hide Caption 7 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke rises over Yangon’s Thaketa Township on March 27.Hide Caption 8 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMourners attend the funeral of Tin Hla, a 43-year-old who was reportedly shot dead by security forces during a protest.Hide Caption 9 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon after a relative was shot during a crackdown on anti-coup protesters.Hide Caption 10 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters occupy a street during a rally in Yangon on March 27.Hide Caption 11 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gesture during a march in Yangon on Friday, March 26.Hide Caption 12 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThein Zaw, a journalist with the Associated Press, waves after being released from a prison in Yangon on March 24. He had been detained while covering an anti-coup protest in February.Hide Caption 13 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMen pray during the funeral of Khin Myo Chit, a 7-year-old girl who was shot in her home by Myanmar’s security forces on March 23. The girl was killed during a military raid, according to the Reuters news agency and the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.Hide Caption 14 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Buddhist monk uses binoculars as he squats behind a road barricade with others in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 22.Hide Caption 15 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe mother of Aung Kaung Htet wails during the teenage boy’s funeral on March 21. Aung, 15, was killed when military junta forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters in Yangon.Hide Caption 16 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarUnidentified people cross the Tiau River at the India-Myanmar border on March 20. Some people from Myanmar have sought refuge in India since the protests began.Hide Caption 17 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester jumps over a makeshift barricade in Yangon on March 19.Hide Caption 18 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take positions on Yangon’s Bayint Naung Bridge on March 17. The bridge was blocked with an improvised barricade to prevent security forces from crossing.Hide Caption 19 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedical students hold up the three-finger salute at the Yangon funeral of Khant Nyar Hein on March 16. The first-year medical student was fatally shot during the crackdown.Hide Caption 20 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters test Molotov cocktails in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 21 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters stand near burning tires in Yangon on March 16.Hide Caption 22 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters pray in Yangon on March 14.Hide Caption 23 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarEmergency workers transport the body of Shel Ye Win, who was shot by security forces in Mandalay.Hide Caption 24 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSmoke billows from the industrial zone of the Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14. The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said several Chinese-funded factories were set ablaze during protests. Demonstrators have accused Beijing of supporting the coup and junta.Hide Caption 25 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA member of Myanmar’s police is seen firing a weapon toward protesters in Yangon on March 13.Hide Caption 26 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople lay flowers and light candles beside bloodied pavement where protester Chit Min Thu was killed in Yangon.Hide Caption 27 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMilitary trucks are seen near a burning barricade in Yangon that was erected by protesters and then set on fire by soldiers on March 10.Hide Caption 28 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a homemade shield during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon on March 9.Hide Caption 29 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas that was fired by police in Yangon on March 8.Hide Caption 30 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters string up longyi, traditional clothing worn in Myanmar, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 7.Hide Caption 31 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThe wife of Phoe Chit, a protester who died during a demonstration, cries over her husband’s coffin during his funeral in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 32 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters step on portraits of Myanmar’s armed forces chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, during a demonstration in Yangon on March 5.Hide Caption 33 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople cry in Yangon on March 4, near a spot where a family member was killed while protesting.Hide Caption 34 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters lie on the ground after police opened fire to disperse an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 35 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSchoolteachers wear traditional hats while participating in an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 36 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA soldier stands next to a detained man during a demonstration in Mandalay on March 3.Hide Caption 37 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters run in Yangon on March 3. One of them discharged a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by police.Hide Caption 38 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn anti-coup protester writes vital emergency information of another protester on his arm in Yangon.Hide Caption 39 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice run toward protesters to disperse a demonstration in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 40 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA citizen of Myanmar living in India burns a poster of Myanmar’s military chief during a protest in New Delhi on March 3.Hide Caption 41 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics help supply oxygen to a protester who was exposed to tear gas in Yangon on March 3.Hide Caption 42 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flee after tear gas was fired during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 43 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters smoke behind shields during a demonstration in Yangon on March 1.Hide Caption 44 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters in Yangon run away from tear gas on March 1.Hide Caption 45 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople in Yangon take part in a ceremony on February 28 to remember those who have been killed during demonstrations.Hide Caption 46 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers patrol during a protest in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 47 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters take cover as they clash with police in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 48 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters erect barricades during a demonstration in Yangon on February 28.Hide Caption 49 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice charge at anti-coup protesters in Yangon on February 27.Hide Caption 50 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAn injured protester receives medical attention in Mandalay after police and military forces cracked down on protests on February 26.Hide Caption 51 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFactory workers hold placards and shout slogans as they hold an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 52 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarAnti-coup protesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 25.Hide Caption 53 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer films protesters near the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on February 24.Hide Caption 54 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarThida Hnin cries during the funeral of her husband, Thet Naing Win, in Mandalay on February 23. He and another protester were fatally shot by security forces during an anti-coup protest.Hide Caption 55 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice stand guard near the US Embassy in Yangon as protesters take part in an anti-coup demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 56 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters hold signs featuring civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Yangon on February 22. Hide Caption 57 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather for a demonstration on February 22.Hide Caption 58 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA man is carried after police dispersed protesters in Mandalay on February 20. Hide Caption 59 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police truck uses a water cannon to disperse protesters in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 60 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun toward protesters during a demonstration in Mandalay on February 20.Hide Caption 61 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester holds a Suu Kyi poster as he sits in front of police in Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 62 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash the three-fingered salute during a rally in downtown Yangon on February 19.Hide Caption 63 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFlower tributes and sympathy messages are left in Yangon for Mya Thweh Thweh Khine. The 20-year-old was shot in the head at a protest in Naypyidaw, and she died on February 19.Hide Caption 64 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters block a major road during a demonstration in Yangon on February 17.Hide Caption 65 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarDemonstrators block a Yangon bridge with their cars on February 17.Hide Caption 66 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBuddhist monks march during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on February 16.Hide Caption 67 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA Suu Kyi banner is displayed during demonstrations in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 68 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers carry barricades in Yangon on February 15.Hide Caption 69 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarElected members of Parliament wave to protesters in Yangon as police surround the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, on February 15.Hide Caption 70 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMedics clear the way as an injured protester is carried away for treatment in Mandalay, Myanmar, on February 15.Hide Caption 71 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople gather around an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 72 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYoung people in Yangon take part in an anti-coup hip-hop performance on February 14.Hide Caption 73 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 74 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA child runs alongside an armored vehicle in Yangon on February 14.Hide Caption 75 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters march through the city of Shwebo on February 13.Hide Caption 76 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarMembers of the Myanmar Photographers Association hold up their cameras as they call for Suu Kyi’s release on February 13.Hide Caption 77 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice detain a protester during a demonstration in Mawlamyine on February 12.Hide Caption 78 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarFarmers ride a tractor with a Suu Kyi poster during a demonstration in Thongwa on February 12.Hide Caption 79 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester dressed as Lady Justice makes a three-finger salute as she takes part in a demonstration in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 80 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters demonstrate in Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on February 11.Hide Caption 81 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarGen. Min Aung Hlaing, the country’s military leader, makes a televised statement on February 11. He announced that more than 23,000 prisoners were set to be granted amnesty and released that day. It was unclear what offenses the prisoners were convicted of.Hide Caption 82 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarBodybuilders take part in a protest in Yangon on February 11.Hide Caption 83 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPeople hold up letters that spell “get out dictators” during a demonstration at Inle Lake on February 11.Hide Caption 84 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester carries a child during a march in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 85 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarWomen in wedding gowns holds up anti-coup placards in Yangon on February 10.Hide Caption 86 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA police officer aims a gun during clashes with protesters in the capital of Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 87 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA protester pleads for police to refrain from using tear gas against demonstrators in Yangon on February 9.Hide Caption 88 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarPolice fire water cannons at protesters in Naypyidaw on February 9.Hide Caption 89 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters gather in Yangon on February 8.Hide Caption 90 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters flash three-fingered salutes as they face rows of riot police in Naypyidaw on February 8.Hide Caption 91 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarHospital workers show three-finger salutes during a demonstration in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 92 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarA rally takes place in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 93 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters shout slogans in Yangon on February 7.Hide Caption 94 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarProtesters give roses to riot police in Yangon on February 6.Hide Caption 95 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarYangon residents bang objects to show support for Suu Kyi and her party on February 5. Hide Caption 96 of 97 Photos: Unrest in MyanmarSoldiers block a road near Myanmar’s Parliament on February 2, a day after the coup.Hide Caption 97 of 97In a report in the military-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar Tuesday, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing accused the KNU of “dancing to the tune of countries and organizations” which oppose the junta. This weekend’s crackdown is the first time in 20 years airstrikes have been carried out in KNU-controlled territory, said David Eubank, founder of Free Burma Rangers. The group urged the international community to provide humanitarian help to its people fleeing the military’s “onslaught,” and to pressure the ruling junta to stop using weapons against civilians. “We are very concerned about the safety and security of our civilians,” said the statement.Fleeing across bordersThousands of people have fled from Myanmar to its neighboring countries, raising concern and alarm in the region about a potential influx of refugees. Since the air strikes, 3,000 people have attempted to cross the Salween River into Thailand and 2,000 were pushed back, according to the KNU.Activist group the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), which operates within Karen state and refugee camps in Thailand, confirmed the air strikes had forced 10,000 people in the state from their homes, and 3,000 had crossed into Thailand.The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that on Tuesday, the country provided medical treatment and other assistance to seven people who were injured while fleeing Myanmar. Six ambulances were deployed to take them to hospital, said the ministry in a statement. Assistance was also given to vulnerable groups like children and the elderly.”These people were unable to return across the border yesterday, despite their wish to return home they had also expressed their fear from air raids,” said the statement. “Authorities concerned have ensured that this particular group of people were well taken care of, and that they were prepared for their return back home when the situation is deemed safe.”Thailand pushes back thousands fleeing Myanmar as death toll surpasses 500Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday his government did not force back those who entered the country.”There are many people who have entered into certain villages (on Thai side), and when we found them, we talked to them. After we asked questions what are their problems in your country they said, there’s no problem,” Prayut said during a news conference. “We didn’t force them (to return) with guns,” Prayut added. “There is no way we will push them back if the fighting is still ongoing. But if there is no fighting now, can they return to their home?”He had previously said that though his government did not want refugees to cross the border, they were preparing for a potential influx.Thailand has hosted tens of thousands of refugees in nine main camps along its border with Myanmar for three decades, following armed conflicts, human rights abuses and persecution of ethnic minorities by the Myanmar military.Most of those who crossed the border over the weekend are from Mu Traw district, where the bombing has been concentrated. Many of those are people who have already fled their homes and are living in the Ei Tu Hta displacement camp.Terrified and uncertain, these families crossed mountains to escape Myanmar's deadly juntaHundreds have also trekked across western Myanmar to cross into the neighboring Indian state of Mizoram. A network of locals and activists have helped facilitate their crossing, and are providing shelter to many of those without family in India.The chief minister of the state has staunchly opposed deporting them back to Myanmar, telling CNN earlier this month, “They are not criminals.” However, the federal government has not publicly announced what it will do with the new arrivals.Meanwhile in China, an outbreak of Covid-19 has been blamed on those fleeing Myanmar. Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar to the south, detected nine Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, four of which are Burmese nationals.The Yunnan Health Commission launched a testing program across the city of Ruili, and locked down the city with suspended inbound and outbound travel. In a statement, the commission added that local authorities will crack down on illegal border crossings from Myanmar. Chinese officials also blamed smugglers from Myanmar for a surge in cases in September, with the Ruili police deputy director telling reporters that there were “Burmese asymptomatic cases illegally crossing into the Chinese border.”China, along with Russia, recently blocked the United Nations’ move to condemn the Myanmar military.
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