Airstrike Denial

January 30th, 2024  •  Author:   Myanmar Witness  •  4 minute read
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30 Jan 2024

Myanmar state run media rejects evidence of deadly airstrikes in Tamu township

Key Event Details

  • Location of Incident:

    • Ka Nan village (ကနန်), Tamu township (တမူးမြို့နယ်), Sagaing region (စစ်ကိုင်းတိုင်းဒေသကြီး) [23.803833, 94.144694].

  • Date/Time of Incident:

    • 7 January 2024

  • Alleged Perpetrator(s) and Involvement:

    • Myanmar Air Force (MAF)

  • Summary of Investigation:

    • MAF airstrikes allegedly destroyed civilian infrastructure and killed up to 17 people in Ka Nan village. Myanmar’s state-run news outlet, MRTV, denied the claims in a broadcast released on 7 January 2024, stating that:

      • the church in Ka Nan village was not hit by an airstrike;

      • claims that several people, including two children, died as a result of the airstrike are false; and

      • no aircraft flew over the area on the morning of 7 January.

    • Myanmar Witness has identified, cross-referenced, and, where possible, verified local media reports, air traffic tracking channels, satellite imagery, and user-generated content (UGC) in order to assess MRTV’s claims.

    • The Church: Satellite imagery, cross-referenced with UGC, reveals that the church and other infrastructure in Ka Nan were damaged between 3 and 8 January.

    • The Victims: Myanmar Witness identified imagery purporting to show the deceased. At least 12 individuals were visible in the footage, including three children and three women. Although this UGC was not geolocatable, an image of one of the deceased (also seen amongst the 12 bodies) was geolocated to Ka Nan village.

    • The Aircraft: Myanmar Witness identified four Q-5 ground attack jets at 0943 local time at Tada-U airbase on 7 January 2024. Myanmar Witness also identified and geolocated footage of a Q-5 ground attack jet in the sky above Ka Nan village moments before the sound of an explosion. The MAF is the only known actor with access to Q-5 ground attack jets. The Q-5 has an operational range significantly beyond the distance between Tada-U airbase and Ka Nan village.

    • This investigation suggests that it is highly likely that airstrikes took place around 1030 on 7 January 2024.

     

Introduction

On 7 January 2024, claims circulated online that the MAF carried out airstrikes on Ka Nan village, Tamu township, Sagaing region. One report suggested that the strike targeted a party in Ka Nan village following a People’s Defence Force (PDF) military training ceremony. This claim has not been independently verified.

Myanmar Now and Khit Thit Media claimed that these airstrikes killed at least 17 people and injured at least 19 people, including women and children. It targeted civilian infrastructure such as schools, churches and homes. 

In a broadcast released on 7 January 2024, Myanmar’s state-run news outlet, MRTV, denied that airstrikes took place, claiming that the reports were ‘fake news’, misinformation and anti-government ‘propaganda’. The broadcast made the following claims (translated by Myanmar Witness): 

“A fake news is spreading that 11 people, including two children, died due to the bombing of the Christian church in Ward No. 5 of Kanan Village, Khampat town, Tamu township, Sagaing Region, by terrorist-inciting, subversive media are being written and distributed. Regarding the news, we got a statement from an official from the relevant area. We learned that there were no flights this morning. The bombardment by the army is just a misinformation.

It is said that the subversive media outlets are writing and distributing fake news on a timely basis and are carrying out propaganda activities to destroy regional peace and stability.”

In this report, Myanmar Witness has verified several pieces of UGC and cross-referenced claims, in order to assess the following three claims made by MRTV:

  • The church in Ka Nan village was not hit by an airstrike.

  • Claims that eleven people, including two children, died as a result of the airstrike are false.

  • No aircraft flew over the area on the morning of 7 January. 

Myanmar Witness believes that it is highly likely that an airstrike took place, with a number of civilian casualties. It is also highly likely that a Q-5 ground attack jet, currently only in use by the MAF, was used during the attack. 


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