Save the Children Says Staff Missing After Myanmar Massacre | World news headlines
BANGKOK (AP) – Two members of the international humanitarian group Save the Children were reported missing on Saturday after Burmese government troops rounded up villagers, some believed to be women and children, shot dead more than 30 and burned their bodies, according to a witness and others. reports.
Alleged photos of the aftermath of the Christmas Eve massacre in the eastern village of Mo So, just outside Hpruso township in Kayah state, where refugees were sheltering from an offensive by the army, spread on social media around the country, fueling outrage against the army that seized power in February.
The accounts could not be independently verified. The photos showed the charred bodies of more than 30 people in three burned-out vehicles.
A villager who said he visited the scene told The Associated Press that the victims fled fighting between armed resistance groups and the Burmese army near the village of Koi Ngan, which is just outside Mo So, Friday. He said they were killed after being stopped by soldiers on their way to refugee camps in the western part of the commune.
Save the Children said two of its employees who were returning home for the holidays after carrying out humanitarian response work in a nearby community were “trapped in the incident and are still missing.”
“We have confirmation that their private vehicle was attacked and set on fire,” the group added in a statement. âThe army reportedly forced people out of their cars, arrested some, killed others and burned their bodies. “
The government did not comment on the allegations, but an article in the state daily Myanma Alinn on Saturday said fighting near Mo So erupted on Friday when members of the ethnic guerrilla forces, known as the Parti national progressive Karenni, and those who oppose the military drove “suspicious” vehicles and attacked the security forces after refusing to stop.
The newspaper said they included new members who were going to undergo training to fight the army, and that the seven vehicles they were traveling in were destroyed in a fire. He gave no further details about the murders.
The witness who spoke to the PA said the remains were burnt to the point of being unrecognizable and children’s and women’s clothing was found along with medical supplies and food.
“The bodies were tied with ropes before being set on fire,” said the witness, who requested anonymity because he feared for his safety.
He did not see the moment when they were killed, but said he believed some of them were villagers from Mo So who were allegedly arrested by troops on Friday. He denied that those captured were members of locally organized militias.
Myanmar’s independent media reported on Friday that 10 Mo So villagers, including children, were arrested by the military and that four members of the local paramilitary border guards who went to negotiate their release were reportedly tied up and shot dead. ‘shot in the head by the army.
The witness said that villagers and anti-government militia groups left the bodies as military troops arrived near Mo So while the bodies were being prepared for cremation. The fighting was still intense near the village.
âThis is a heinous crime and the worst incident of Christmas. We strongly condemn this massacre as a crime against humanity, âsaid Banyar Khun Aung, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group.
Earlier this month, government troops were also accused of rounding up villagers, some believed to be children, of tying them up and slaughtering them. Opposition leader Dr Sasa, who uses only one name, said civilians were burned to death.
Video of the aftermath of the December 7 assault – apparently in retaliation for an attack on a military convoy – showed the charred bodies of 11 people lying in a circle in the middle of what appeared to be the remains of a hut.
The fighting resumed on Saturday in a neighboring state on the border with Thailand, where thousands of people have fled to seek refuge. Local officials said the Burmese military had launched airstrikes and heavy artillery on Lay Kay Kaw, a small town controlled by ethnic Karen guerrillas, since Friday.
The military’s action prompted several Western governments, including the United States Embassy, ââto issue a joint statement condemning “the serious human rights violations committed by the military regime across the country.”
“We call on the regime to immediately cease indiscriminate attacks in Karen State and throughout the country, and to ensure the safety of all civilians in accordance with international law,” the joint statement said.
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