Myanmar conflict: Government troops helicopter attack kills 13, seven of them children,

Government helicopters have attacked a school and village in north-central Myanmar, killing at least 13 people including seven children, a school administrator and an aid worker said.

The number of children killed in the air attack on the Tabayin township in the Sagaing region is feared to be the highest since the army seized power in February last year, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The army’s takeover triggered mass peaceful protests nationwide.

The military and police responded with deadly force, resulting in the spread of armed resistance in the cities and countryside.

Debris in a damaged school building in Depeyin township a day after an attack on the village by military helicopters (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

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Fighting has been especially fierce in Sagaing, where the military has launched several offensives, in some cases burning villages, which displaced more than 500,000 people, according to a report issued by Unicef this month.

Friday’s attack occurred in Let Yet Kone village in Tabayin, also known as Depayin, about 70 miles north-west of Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city.

School administrator Mar Mar said she was trying to get pupils to safe hiding places in ground-floor classrooms when two of four Mi-35 helicopters hovering north of the village began attacking, firing machine guns and heavier weapons at the school, which is in the compound of the village’s Buddhist monastery.

Mar Mar uses the pseudonym to protect herself and relatives from the military.

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She said: “Since the students had done nothing wrong, I never thought that they would be brutally shot by machine guns. They kept shooting into the compound from the air for an hour.

“They didn’t stop even for one minute. All we could do at that time was chant Buddhist mantras.”

When the air attack stopped, about 80 soldiers entered the monastery compound, firing their guns at the buildings.

The soldiers then ordered everyone in the compound to come out of the buildings.

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Mar Mar said she saw about 30 pupils with wounds on their backs, thighs, faces and other parts of the bodies.

Some had lost limbs.

“The children told me that their friends were dying,” she said.

“I also heard a student yelling, ‘It hurts so much. I can’t take it anymore. Kill me, please.’ This voice still echoes in my ears.”

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She said at least six children were killed in the school and a 13-year-old boy working at a fishery in a nearby village was also fatally shot.

At least six adults were also killed in the air attack in other parts of the village, she said.

The bodies of the dead children were taken away by the soldiers.

More than 20 people, including nine wounded children and three teachers, were also taken by the soldiers, she said.

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Two of those captured were accused of being members of the anti-government People’s Defence Force, the armed wing of the resistance to the military.

Security forces also burned down a house in the village, causing residents to flee.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors human rights in Myanmar, at least 2,298 civilians have been killed by the security forces since the army seized power last year.

The UN has documented 260 attacks on schools and education personnel since the coup, the UN Child Rights Committee said in June.

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