An artillery strike that hit a refugee camp near Myanmar's border with China has killed at least 29 people, including women and children, media and sources said on Tuesday, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the return of military rule.
Myanmar has been embroiled in a conflict in a number of regions since a 2021 coup, with ethnic minority armies and a resistance movement battling to undermine military rule after a fierce crackdown by security forces.
Sources including the exiled National Unity Government blamed the military for the shelling, which took place close to midnight on Monday in Kachin state.
The internally displaced persons camp is at Mung Lai Hkyet village, near the border town of Laiza.
A junta official said the military was not responsible.
“We are investigating. We always take care of border peace situation,” Zaw Min Tun told People Media, adding that the explosion may have involved an ethnic rebel group's own munitions.
Sources said artillery hit a camp for internally displaced people about 5km from a base in Laiza run by the Kachin Independence Army, which has been in conflict for years with Myanmar's military.
Kachin media outlets said 30 people were killed, though this could not be confirmed.
The NUG condemned what it called a vicious attack on civilians and said the world must take action to halt the atrocities and put Myanmar's generals on trial.
“This act of military council is war crime and crime against humanity,” NUG spokesperson Kyaw Zaw said, adding an attack at the border with China showed the junta did not respect its neighbour's demand for peace and stability.
The UN in Myanmar said it was deeply concerned by reports of the incident, adding that “civilians should never be a target”.
China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.