More than 30 — including women and children –were fatally shot in Myanmar on Christmas Eve by junta soldiers who then burned the bodies, according to a human rights group and opponents of Myanmar’s military.
International human rights group Save the Children accused the Myanmar military of killing at least 38 people in Eastern Myanmar on Friday. Two of the group’s staffers who were performing humanitarian work in the area got “caught up” in the slaughter and are missing.
“Save the Children condemns this attack as a breach of International Humanitarian Law. We are horrified at the violence carried out against innocent civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar,” the group’s executive director, Inger Ashing, said Saturday.
“Investigations into the nature of the incident are continuing but attacks against aid workers cannot be tolerated.”
The killings took place near Hpruso Township 70 miles east of Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw. Unverified pictures of the aftermath viewed by the New York Times and Associated Press show charred bodies in the back of three fire-damaged trucks.
Opposition party Myanmar’s National Unity Government labeled it a “Christmas massacre in Karenni state,” saying Myanmar soldiers “detained an unconfirmed number of [villagers] and travelers and destroyed their properties.
“As the world celebrates Christmas and its message of peace, the NUG repeats its demands on the international community to act immediately and decisively to end the military junta’s escalating war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Myanmar people,” the party said in a statement.
“It’s a heinous crime and the worst incident during Christmas,” said Banyar Khun Aung, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group. “We strongly condemn that massacre as a crime against humanity.”
One anonymous witness told the Associated Press the victims’ bodies were severely burned, and that children’s and women’s clothes as well as medical supplies and food were found at the scene.
“The bodies were tied with ropes before being set on fire,” said the witness.
The gruesome killings come after the Myanmar army took full control of the country in a Feb. 1 coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, and has cracked down against its opponents. On Dec. 6, Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison.
The massacre also comes after opponents of military rule in Myanmar staged a “silent strike” earlier in the month.
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