Wednesday, 1 February, 2023
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India urged to close airspace to Myanmar warplanes

India urged to close airspace to Myanmar warplanes

India should stop Myanmar’s warplanes from entering Indian airspace during operations by the military regime to bomb targets in areas near India’s border, an international human rights group has said.

Fortify Rights claimed that Myanmar’s air force had “dropped bombs on both sides of the Myanmar-India border” in deadly attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday against an ethnic-Chin rebel group.

Five Chin National Front (CNF) soldiers were killed, including two women, in the air raids which reportedly started on Tuesday when bombs were dropped on the ethnic armed group’s Camp Victoria in Myanmar’s Chin state, which abuts India’s Mizoram state, the rights group said.

Two bombs dropped by the Myanmar air force also landed on the Indian side of the border, near the village of Farkawn in Mizoram’s Champhai district, the rights group added, though no injuries were reported on the Indian side.

“New Delhi shouldn’t tolerate the junta’s incursions on its airspace, and Indian authorities should do everything in their power to ensure the security of civilians and border areas,” Fortify Rights chief executive officer Matthew Smith said in a statement on Thursday. “India must not allow the junta to continue destabilizing the region by using Indian airspace in its attacks and should support efforts to hold the junta accountable for its crimes,” he said.

Myanmar’s warplanes have also violated the airspace of Thailand and Bangladesh in recent months, according to the rights organisation.

Salai Htet Ni, a spokesman for the CNF, which claims to represent the mainly Christian Chin minority located in western Myanmar, said on Wednesday that seven bombs were dropped.

“Some of our houses were destroyed from their air strike … One bomb landed on the Indian side,” he told AFP news agency.

Media based in Chin state carried footage of what was claimed to be a Myanmar fighter jet and the damage inflicted on Camp Victoria and the site where a bomb landed inside India.

According to the French news agency, Indian police reported that the bombs had landed in a riverbed that demarcates the international boundary between India and Myanmar.

“Our initial investigation has revealed that there is no damage to any [Indian] life or property,” Lalrinpuia Varte, police superintendent of Champhai district, told AFP.

According to AFP, the number of CNF’s fighters has diminished in recent years and the group signed a ceasefire with Myanmar’s military in 2015. However, the CNF has since signed an agreement with forces fighting against the military regime which grabbed power in Myanmar in February 2021.