Myanmar Military air strikes at Camp Victoria
14 Jan 2023
CNF base on the India-Myanmar border targeted, allegedly impacting Indian sovereign territory.
Myanmar Military airstrikes occurred on 10 and 11 January 2023 against Camp Victoria - the headquarters of the CNF and a strategically important area on the India-Myanmar border. At least one of the strikes conducted by the Myanmar Military allegedly impacted Indian sovereign territory and aircraft reportedly passed through Indian airspace. The strikes against Camp Victoria have resulted in the deaths of at least five individuals, believed to be CNF members. Analysis by Myanmar Witness indicates these attacks were premeditated.
Key Event Details
Location of Incident: Camp Victoria (ဗစ်တိုးရီးယားစခန်း), in Thantlang Township (ထန်တလန်) Chin State (ချင်း) [23.069562, 93.347362]
Date/Time of Incident:
10-11 January 2023 (Verified)
Alleged Perpetrator(s) and/or Involvement:
Myanmar Air Force
Myanmar Witness has geolocated user-generated content (UGC) of the strike destruction at Camp Victoria and compared it with pre-existing satellite imagery, allowing for independent verification of the strike impact locations.
Although the capture date of the various pieces of UGC which were relied upon in this investigation cannot be fully verified, Myanmar Witness determined that the UGC had not appeared online prior to 10 January 2023, the same day that reports and allegations of the air strikes began to emerge.
A series of airstrikes on a strategically important CNF base has reportedly left at least five dead, including women. This represents an escalation in the use of air power and the conduct of the SAC’s airwar across the conflict in Myanmar. Although a military base, Camp Victoria is known to host and provide services to civilians - containing homes and essential services, such as medical facilities.
On 10 January 2023 at around 1600 local time, an airstrike event was allegedly carried out by the Myanmar Military on Camp Victoria (ဗစ်တိုးရီးယားစခန်း), in Thantlang (ထန်တလန်) Township, Chin (ချင်း) State. On 11 January 2023, another airstrike event on Camp Victoria was reported by outlets such as Khit Thit Media at a similar time in the evening as the previous day. Myanmar Witness defines an ‘airstrike event’ as ‘one or more airstrikes within a 24 hour period in the same village/specific geographic area’.
Myanmar Witness has geolocated footage of the aftermath of the attack and matched it to satellite imagery, showing extensive damage to structures and roads in the area. Myanmar Witness has also assessed allegations of at least one strike impacting Indian sovereign territory and believes this likely did occur. Further investigation is being conducted to provide greater certainty on this claim.
Social media posts, such as those uploaded by Chin Human Rights Organisation, of supposedly ‘leaked’ documents, have also been analysed by Myanmar Witness. The conducted analysis suggests the attacks against Camp Victoria were premeditated.
Further analysis by Myanmar Witness indicates the strikes impacted a medical facility within Camp Victoria which is known to provide medical services to local community members. Myanmar Witness has continually highlighted the brutality of the conflict in Myanmar, particularly in relation to its impact on sites such as schools, clinics and religious buildings.
Myanmar Witness has geolocated footage to verify:
the airstrike-caused destruction of parts of Camp Victoria and its surrounds; and
the potential targeting of civilian infrastructure such as medical facilities and housing.
Myanmar Witness is actively monitoring:
claims that Myanmar Military aircrafts entered Indian airspace - as no UGC has been identified which would provide insight into this;
claims around what kind of aircraft was used in the Camp Victoria (ဗစ်တိုးရီးယားစခန်း) attack.
The five individuals allegedly killed are referred to as members of the CNF. The members were later identified online by Chinland News as:
Salai Van Ro Sang
Salai Duh Tin
Mai Ngun Hlei Par
Mai Sui Len Par
Salai Kil Mang.
Figure 1: The location of Camp Victoria [23.069562, 93.347362].
The investigation walk-through
Myanmar Witness analysed multiple pieces of UGC identified across social media, showing what is now known to be Camp Victoria, where airstrikes allegedly took place at around 1600 local time on 10 January 2023. The attack was reportedly conducted using up to five aircraft, claimed to be Yak-130s, or SU30s that dropped up to eight bombs, according to Chinland News. Based on the identified UGC, Myanmar Witness cannot currently confirm the utilisation of a particular aircraft in this attack; however, Khit Thit Media specifically reference the aircrafts being used as being blue, which could indicate either SU30s or Yak-130s.
Footage taken and uploaded to YouTube (from the Indian side of the border, at approximately 23.068271, 93.340013) captured the aftermath and occurrence of several strikes. The video shows smoke rising in Camp Victoria, from 23.069722, 93.348080.
Myanmar Witness had previously conducted analysis on what appeared to be ‘leaked’ documents, referring to a possible SAC attack on Camp Victoria. An analysis of the information within these documents, alongside the actual events of the 10 and 11 January 2023, show the affected site to be labelled as “Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) Soldiers/ Police quarters”. Further information on the ‘leaked’ document analysis is detailed below.
As the video continues, the sound of the air activity increasing can be heard, followed by a loud explosion. A white cloud of smoke indicates the location of the explosion, later reported by multiple outlets to be in India’s territory, though this detail is disputed and will be further explored later in this report. Although the footage could not be chronolocated, it was uploaded on 10 January 2023, shortly after the attacks were said to have occurred.
Figure 2: Geolocation of deflagration followed by smoke [23.068271, 93.340013] (source: Chhawkhlei Channel).
Myanmar Witness cross-referenced identified footage to the Camp Victoria area with satellite imagery to locate the specific areas under attack. One piece of footage, withheld for the protection of the uploader, provided a visual panorama of Camp Victoria and its surroundings, helping to show the airstrike in motion (Figure 3).
The footage shows something hitting the ground in the proximity of a set of buildings. Through satellite imagery and geolocation, we can see that this area was clearly marked out as a medical clinic area (Figure 3). It is alleged, though the images cannot be verified through this UGC, that the attack hit the clinic area, destroying a medical equipment warehouse (Figure 3). Note the presence of the ‘Red Cross’ Emblem in Figure 3 - the internationally recognised sign for sites which should be ‘protected’ and not targeted in the course of conflict.
Figure 3: Geolocation of video of the airstrike, filmed from within Camp Victoria [23.060792, 93.346693] (source: Private).
Figure 4: Images alleged to be of a medical facility warehouse, hit during the airstrikes on Camp Victoria (source: The Voice of Spring).
Images of the CNF headquarters, uploaded by News Media groups covering the attack, show damage to roads, (geolocated to 23.069124, 93.346662) and a CDF building (geolocated to 23.069562, 93.347362).
Figure 5: Geolocation of a damaged road running parallel to the homes at the camp at around 23.069124, 93.346662 (source: Khit Thit Media).
Further, additional UGC was identified alleging another airstrike had taken place in Camp Victoria the following day - 11 January 2023, utilising 3 aircrafts. While Myanmar Witness was unable to chronolocate the images present in the UGC to prove they were separate instances of occurrence (across the 10 & 11 January), these more recent reports utilised imagery not previously identified throughout the investigation into events from the 10 January 2023 attack.
Myanmar Witness has geolocated images uploaded by The Voice of Spring that show damage to the CDF base structures at around 23.069562, 93.347362 (Figure 6), as well as footage from The Chinland Post that includes a loud sound, almost certainly from the aircraft attack, and Camp Victoria on fire and smoking (Figure 7). The fire pictured in Figure 7 is located at around 23.069747, 93.346014. These two pieces of footage are at either end of the camp, suggesting a large area of the camp was damaged by these airstrikes.
Figure 6: Shows buildings, clearly having been damaged, geolocated to around 23.069562, 93.347362 (source: The Voice of Spring).
Figure 7: Footage demonstrates what is likely - and claimed to be by the uploader - an airstrike on Camp Victoria on 11 January 2023. Myanmar Witness geolocated this footage to 23.069747, 93.346014 (source: The Chinland Post).
There are indications that airstrike activity around the border may have, on at least one occasion, struck Indian sovereign territory; however, these claims are conflicting across news media, with Indian military officials denying the incident took place and other outlets, such as The Guardian reporting to the contrary. Al Jazeera and Fortify Rights have both called for the closing of Indian airspace to Myanmar aircraft, with Fortify Rights claiming - again - that these airstrikes had affected the Indian side of the border, too. The National Unity Government (NUG) echoed condemnation against the Myanmar Military and the SAC.
One video analysed by Myanmar Witness, which was uploaded to Youtube, appears to show individuals looking at where an airstrike has landed, located on Indian territory at around 23.068715, 93.341690 (Figure 8). Myanmar Witness previously geolocated footage from the same Youtube channel of the airstrikes (Figure 2). The footage appears to show airstrikes around the border area which, upon analysis by Myanmar Witness, could show one of the airstrikes possibly hitting Indian territory; though this is less certain from what can be verified in the video (Figure 9). If verifiable, this claim falls within a pattern form the SAC of disregarding sovereign territory in their airstrikes to target those close to the border. These individuals are often resistance fighters in Myanmar, and some living in these border areas are refugees.
Figure 8: Geolocation to 23.068715, 93.341690 on Indian territory of what appears to be individuals looking at where an airstrike had landed. The video content claims a ‘Myanmar bomb’ landed in Indian territory (source: Youtube).
Figure 9: The yellow line indicating the border area and possible locations of where airstrikes hit around the border area. One hit - at around 1.04s into the video - could have been located on Indian soil (source: Youtube).
The Chin Journal reported on 12 January 2023, that the location of the airstrike that hit Indian territory was very close to the riverbed and border between the two countries, with the location included in the images showing land that dips slightly - possibly indicating it has been hit - but this could not be geolocated. Regardless, this claim aligns with Myanmar Witness’ geolocation of locations potentially showing airstrikes having hit the Indian border, being exceedingly close to the river (international border line).
On 7 November 2022, images of an allegedly leaked SAC intelligence document, was published by Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) with additional supporting imagery posted across the following days. The images included a map, two aerial images and a table.
The identified images contained a series of serial numbers, matching the pattern of the table’s legend. The map had 15 sites marked with numbers and letters, as well as possible escape routes to a nearby village and a town. Among the marked sites, six sites were labelled with two values and two sites were labelled with three different values. The numbers ranged between 1-14, the values in the legend followed a pattern of “EA-XXXXXX”, the location included the purpose of various buildings, whilst the ‘remarks’ column remained empty. Non-military sites, including those with special protections under international law, were among the list, including religious sites (church) and medical facilities (clinic & ward). Using these documents, Myanmar Witness recreated the map, with locations of the marked sites.
Figure 10: The leaked map of Camp Victoria and accompanying Google Earth image recreated by Myanmar Witness (source: Khit Thit Media).
Figure 11: Leaked document of CNF headquarters ‘target list’ (source: Chinland News).
One of the leaked images, labelled with serial number “EA-354506”, had three sites marked with A-C. This serial number matched row 4 in the table, revealing that these sites are supposed to be church, headquarter office and leaders houses. These plans would need to have been made post-coup due to the fact that the building highlighted is a white, dashed, rectangular shape and a new addition on satellite imagery from January 2022.
Figure 12: Image EA-354506 and Myanmar Witness analysis image (source: CHRO).
Other sites that were labelled multiple times were mentioned in the table accordingly. In some cases, the same serial number was used in multiple rows. For example, row 8 of the table, using “EA-357499” listed the clinic (A), ward (B) and gate (C). The same serial number was used in row 9 for the gate and row 10 for the clinic (A) and ward (B). The repeated use of the same image, mentioning different sites at a time, led Myanmar Witness to the conclusion that these numbers may point at additional documents, possibly infographics or analysis, that provide more precise information about the sites. The use of multiple analysis for the same site could indicate the importance of precise information and identification of it.
The serial numbers of the images followed multiple patterns with consecutive numbers. For example, all the numbers besides the third in images EA-356506, EA-357506 and EA-358506 were identical. The school was featured in the three images, under analysis 5, 13 and 14. In row 5, the school was the only site that was mentioned. In row 13 it was labelled with (B), among two other sites, and in row 14 it was labelled with (C), with the same two sites. Though, in rows 13 and 14, the order of the sites was changed. Keeping in mind that these rows used images with consecutive serial numbers, Myanmar Witness came to the conclusion that these images were possibly captured during a short duration, followed by each other.
Myanmar Witness continues to investigate these incidents.
The attack on Camp Victoria, a strategic area of military resistance in Chin (ချင်း) state, represents a major escalation in the SAC’s conduct of airwar and willingness to utilise violence. The likely premeditated nature of these attacks is of major concern, particularly when coupled with an almost certain breach of Indian air space and a likely attack on Indian sovereign territory. This is not the first time the actions of the Myanmar Military and the SAC have impacted a neighbouring country, with the 16 December 2021 incursion into Thailand and multiple incursions into Bangladesh in September 2022. Alongside this, the impact this attack had on a medical facility demonstrates a continued lack of distinction from the Myanmar Military and the SAC. Myanmar Witness continues to proactively investigate events such as this and push for accountability across the conflict in Myanmar.
List of Abbrieviations
Chin National Front (CNF)
User-generated content (UGC)
State Administration Council (SAC)
Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM)
National Unity Government (NUG)
Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)