Eleven people, including eight children, have been killed in Myanmar’s Chin State after a military jet bombed a school, villagers say.
Locals say the strike on the remote village of Vuilu in the mountainous region happened on Wednesday.
Myanmar is currently in the grip of a civil war with numerous armed groups fighting the military junta which deposed an elected government in 2021.
Chin State is a stronghold of resistance against the junta.
This week, its grassroots insurgency saw ethnic Chin fighters recapture the town of Rikhawdar, on the border with India.
According to accounts posted on social media by residents of Vuilu, a hilltop community of fewer than 80 households in the south of the state, military aircraft dropped at least two bombs on them on Wednesday evening.
One destroyed a house which was being used as an improvised school, killing the eight children and three adults who were studying there. The victims included 34-year-old teacher Ha Luang and his mother, as well as his two children.
The children killed were aged between seven and 11 years old. The bombs also damaged several other houses and the village’s two churches.
Southern Chin State has seen frequent clashes between the armed forces and different insurgent groups, but local people say there has been no fighting near Vuilu.
However, one villager told the BBC that the Arakan Army, an ethnic insurgent group which recently resumed its armed campaign against central government forces in neighbouring Rakhine State, had been using a route through Vuilu to bring in reinforcements and supplies.
The military government has suffered a series of defeats in attacks by opposition forces across the country over the past three weeks, and is relying heavily on air power to strike back.
Communities in Chin State were among the first to take up arms against the junta after the 2021 coup, relying on their home-made tumiorhunting rifles to ambush military convoys.
Locally-formed militias across the vast, mountainous state came together under the umbrella of the Chin Defence Force and began to acquire modern weapons from over the border in India.
The south of Chin State, around the town of Paletwa, has also been affected by fighting between the military and the well-armed Arakan Army insurgents, who now control much of neighbouring Rakhine State.
Ethnic Chin insurgents have been successful in taking a number of military bases, and confining most government forces to fortified barracks in the main towns.
The Chin, who are mostly Christian, have long complained of neglect and abusive treatment by the central government. In previous decades, there was an active armed insurgency in the state.
Elsewhere around the country, the junta has faced a campaign of fierce offensives in recent weeks – from an alliance of three ethnic minority armed groups in Shan State, along the border with China, as well as allied pro-democracy fighters elsewhere.
The military-installed president of Myanmar has warned the country is in danger of breaking apart if the government cannot control the fighting in Shan State.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres this week expressed his deep concern over the escalating conflict in the country – where two million people have now been displaced by fighting.__BBC.com