The concert in Kachin state was to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Kachin Independence Movement (KIO), a powerful separatist group that has fought the central government for decades and supported the fight against the military junta.
According to local reports and witnesses, the concert was attacked by three fighter jets. Among the 60 dead were well-known singers Aurali and Galau Yaw Lwi, he added.
A Kachin rebel army colonel later told AFP news agency that around 50 people had been killed, including rebels and civilians. In addition, 70 people were reportedly injured.
The UN concerned
Myanmar’s military junta has not commented on the reports. But the UN office in Myanmar says it is deeply concerned about reports of airstrikes.
– What appears to be an excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians appears unacceptable. Those behind it must be held accountable, the UN statement said.
Myanmar has been marred by unrest since the military coup in February last year. The army severely suppressed protests, demonstrations and armed resistance. According to the political prisoner support group, 2,377 people have been killed and more than 15,900 arrested since the coup.
This figure does not always include those killed during military operations in the countryside.
Worst in death toll
The attack on the concert is probably the worst in terms of casualties in a single attack since the military coup against the popularly elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1 last year.
Details of the attack cannot be obtained from independent sources, but photos posted on social media by people supporting the rebels show broken wooden objects.
The attack took place on the first day of a planned three-day celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the KIO. The concert took place at a base the organization uses for training, near the village of Aung Bar in Hpakant district, 950 kilometers north of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.
A spokesman for the Kachin Artists Association told the AP by phone that planes dropped four bombs on the celebration at 8 p.m. Sunday night. Between 300 and 500 people were present, and a singer and a keyboardist were among those killed.
Others killed were officers and soldiers of the KIO’s armed wing, musicians and other civilians, including jade mine owners and kitchen staff working behind the scenes.
The Kachin News Group, which supports the Kachin people, reported the same death toll and wrote that government forces prevented the injured from receiving medical treatment at nearby hospitals.
Lack of respect for civilians
A man from the Hpakant emergency services said he saw three military planes dropping bombs over the concert area, but was prevented from approaching by the KIO.
Amnesty International’s deputy director in the region, Hana Young, said she fears the attack could involve an escalation in unlawful airstrikes that have killed and injured civilians in areas controlled by armed rebel groups.
– The military is showing a reckless disrespect for civilian life in its growing offensive against opponents. It’s hard to believe they didn’t know there was a significant element of civilians in the places they attacked, Young said.
“Devoted reader. Thinker. Proud food specialist. Evil internet scholar. Bacon practitioner.”