New Delhi: At 13 people killed, including 7 children, while 17 wounded when army helicopters shot at a school in Myanmar, media reports said.
According to a TRT World report, the violence took place on Friday in the village of Let Yet Kone in the central Sagaing region.
Country’s military in response to the attack said it opened fire because rebels were using the building to attack its forces.
Children killed on spot
According to reports in the Mizzima and Irrawaddy news portals, army helicopters had opened fire on the school housed in a Buddhist monastery in the village.
Some children were killed on the spot by the shooting, while others died after troops entered the village, the reports said.
Quoting two residents, the report said that the bodies were later transported by the military to a township 11 kilometres away and buried.
Armed groups using villagers as human shields
In a statement, the military said the Kachin Independence Army, a rebel group, and the People’s Defence Force (PDF), an umbrella organisation of armed guerrillas that the junta calls “terrorists”, had been hiding in the monastery and using the village to transport weapons in the area, the report said.
Security forces sent by helicopter had conducted “a surprise inspection” and were attacked by PDF and the KIA inside houses and the monastery, it said.
It said security forces had responded and said some villagers had been killed in the clash and that the wounded were taken to public hospitals for treatment, reports TRT World.
The statement accused the armed groups of using villagers as human shields and said that weapons including 16 handmade bombs had later been seized.
In a statement after Friday’s violence, Myanmar’s ousted government, known as the National Unity Government (NUG), accused the junta of “targeted attacks” on schools.
The NUG also called for the release of 20 students and teachers it said had been arrested following the air strikes.