“I saw blood everywhere. Some of the bodies had been blown away. I saw bodies
with limbs severed, brains and intestines falling out”
witnessed by survivor Ko Sut Rein.
A Nang Pa is a small place about 20 miles away from Hpakant Township.
On that fateful day, people gathered there for a commemorative ceremony and
a concert. This was a rare opportunity in Kachin state, for everyone to be happy,
laugh, and relax.
If we had surveyed the whole panorama, then first we would have seen the
concert stage erected next to the football field, then a residential building and
dining tables set up near the kitchens.
More than 30 people including officers and businessmen were sitting at the front
table close to the stage, chatting and eating. Hundreds of people turned up for
the historic KIO ceremony, and to enjoy the concert.
The sounds from the stage boomed out from the speakers. Performers and fans
Ko Sut Rein, one of the entertainers recalled “This tragedy happened when the audience was asking Aura Li to sing, and I was about to go on stage.” Sut Rein will never forget how in the blink of an eye everything changed, from a joyful celebration to a
blood-soaked nightmare. Ko Sut related ” The force of the explosion was so strong
that the tiles on the roof of the building were blown away . He witnessed “ the venue
was covered in the blood of the wounded. I heard people wailing and appealing for help,” The explosive havoc was unleashed by three fighter jets with their cargo of 4 bombs, killing at least 80 people and it is reported a hundred more were injured.
What had been a festive scene had turned into a ghoulish horror show. Ko Sut Rein
Recalled hearing “the sounds of wailing echoing everywhere and I saw blood
everywhere. Bodies had been blown away onto the roof. I saw bodies with limbs cut off, some with brains and intestines falling out”.
After the explosions voices screamed in pain, and others fled from the destruction.
Ko Sut Rein, one of the survivors said that “it was as if the whole place had
been hit by a firestorm. The planes flew very close to the ground and released
their bombs. A Nang Pa was torn up.”
Ko Sut Rein was lucky to survive. At that time he had left the concert for a while, and
was still at the exit gate on the opposite site of the football field. He thinks that
many people never heard the engines of the military planes arriving because of the
loudness of the music. He wanted to run and warn everyone, but Ko Sut Rein
explained “the situation changed in the blink of an eye. I couldn’t do anything.
Everyone was focused on the concert.”
According to Ko Sut Rein, a total of 4 bombs were dropped, 1 near the residential
building,1 near the stage, and the 2 others exploded in the surrounding areas.
Another witness said that when he heard the explosions, he desperately fled to
where he thought it would be safe.“I was near the building. When it exploded, the
stones were flying towards us like rain. We saw planks and bamboo poles scattered in the football field while we were running”, he said. He also admitted that he was still haunted by the voices of injured people crying for help, while he and other
survivors were in hiding.
KIA’s high-ranking officials and many Kachin artists and civilians were among the 80
known to have been killed, including well-known local singer Aura Li.
Ko Sut Rein also said “ it was so heartbreaking to see corpses with limbs and organs
cut off by bombs. ” There are still many people whose bodies may never be recovered. And I saw ribs attached to some trees”, he added. He also said the explosions were so loud that he is worried that some people may have gone deaf.
After the tragedy the Military Council banned access to and from A Nang Pa, thus
preventing many seriously wounded victims from being transported to nearby
hospitals. Due to a lack of access to medical treatment, the death toll keeps rising
already standing at over 80 with many people still unaccounted.
The Military Council justified their bombing as retaliation because their military bases
Had been attacked. They also denied civilians and musicians were killed in Air Force’s
bombing and claiming A Nang Pa was a KIA’s 9th brigade military camp.
KIA’s General Gun Maw wrote on his social media page that “A Nang Pa is not a
KIA military stronghold. It’s just a small shop-lined camp where travelers rest for a while.” He also prayed that “ those who lost their lives could rest in peace. Now the civilians and locals who visit A Nang Pa are treated like enemies by the Military Council. The heartbreaks and tears will turn into priceless investments .”
General Gun Maw – a social media message addressed to Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Many ethnic armed organizations, revolutionary forces, and international and local organizations expressed condolences and issued statements of condemnation regarding this incident.
After surviving the disaster, Ko Sut Rein anxiously came back and searched for
his friend among the rubble, and the burning remnants of the building. But his quest
was in vain. In the early morning of the following day October 24th Ko Sut
Rein found his friend, his entire body covered in wounds – dead.