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Single Event Investigation: Airstrikes on residential areas in Lay Kay Kaw

October 26th, 2022  •  Author:   Myanmar Witness  •  3 minute read
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Airstrikes on residential areas in Lay Kay Kaw

Myanmar Witness

27 Oct 2022

Report Published:

Single Event Investigation: Geolocating airstrikes which took place in April 2022

Myanmar Witness has been monitoring the conflict in and around Lay Kay Kaw (လေးကေ့ကော်), Kayin State (ကရင်ပြည်နယ်) since December 2021. Many of the events which took place during December 2021 were covered in the published report Residents Forced to Flee Symbolic Peace Town.

Figure: Map of Myanmar created using Open Street Map, with Kayin State (ကရင်ပြည်နယ်) highlighted in grey, Myawaddy Township (မြဝတီ) highlighted in a darker grey and a red marker indicating the location of Lay Kay Kaw (လေးကေ့ကော်).

Since January, there have been intermittent conflicts in this area. This report investigates alleged airstrikes in a residential area of Lay Kay Kaw (လေးကေ့ကော်), close to civilian homes. Many people had already fled the area before the strike took place, and Myanmar Witness is not aware of any civilian casualties.

Figure: The locations in Lay Kay Kaw (လေးကေ့ကော်) where the different footage analysed in this report was filmed. Footage 4 has not been included in this map as it has not been geolocated by Myanmar Witness.

In April 2022, Myanmar Witness identified user-generated content in the form of six pieces of video footage that captured an airstrike which allegedly took place on 10 April 2022. This footage captures several different angles of the attack. An aircraft, ordnance falling, explosions and smoke are visible in the footage. 

The footage has been cross-referenced by Myanmar Witness in order to assess its date and location. Through this, Myanmar Witness has established that the videos were taken in the same area, and it has been possible to verify that an attack took place on 10 April 2022.

Figure: Video uploaded by Cobra Column of explosions in Lay Kay Kaw (လေးကေ့ကော်). (Source).

Figure: Geolocation of a video uploaded by Cobra Column of explosions at 16.593139, 98.515594.

An analysis of the aircraft seen within the footage reveals that a YAK-130 flew over the area. As a result, it could be possible to attribute the airstrike to the military, as Myanmar Witness does not believe that local anti-military defence forces have access to YAK-130’s, while a previous investigation has revealed that the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) has multiple YAK-130’s in its inventory.

Figure: Image of the aircraft, with small areas of black smoke following the aircraft – indicating the use of the gun pod – as compared to an image of a Yak-130.

Myanmar Witness also identified damage to civilian homes; however it is unclear at this time if this is related to the airstrikes or whether it was the result of previous clashes. An area which was once designated a ‘town of peace’ is now unsafe for civilians. The threat of airstrikes, ongoing clashes, and destroyed civilian infrastructure mean that many of the families which have fled the area will be unlikely to return in the near future. 

To read the full report and see the geolocated footage, download the PDF.

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