Wednesday, January 19

Soldiers accused of massacring more than 30 civilians in Myanmar – Save the Children staff missing

Myanmar’s government forces are accused of shooting and killing more than 30 people in the east of the country. Children are to be among the victims, and Save the Children employees are missing.

The photo, provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), is said to have been taken in Hpruso in the state of Kayah, where several sources report that more than 30 people were killed on Christmas Eve. The victims are said to have been set on fire after the massacre. Photo: KNDF via AP / NTB

After the massacre on Christmas Eve, the dead are said to have been burned, according to several reports that came from Hpruso in the state of Kayah on Saturday, where the majority of the inhabitants belong to the ethnic minority Karen people.

Save the Children states that two of their employees are missing after the attack, which according to the organization claimed at least 38 lives.

– They are still missing, and we have received confirmation that their private vehicle was attacked and burned. We have received reports that the military forced people out of the cars, arrested some, killed others and burned the bodies, the organization says in a statement on Christmas Day.

The photo, provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), was taken in Hpruso in the state of Kayah after the massacre on Friday. Photo: KNDF via AP / NTB

On the run

Pictures that allegedly show the crime scene in the village of Mo So, have been spread on social media and have led to a new rage against the military junta that took power in February. According to activists, the victims were fleeing fighting in the area when they were killed.

The organization Myanmar Witness says it has received confirmation from local media reports and testimonies from local fighters that “35 people, including women and children, were killed and burned by the military on December 24 in Hpruso”.


Save the Children’s employees were on their way home on holiday after carrying out humanitarian work nearby when they ended up in the middle of the incident.

– Save the Children condemns this attack as a violation of international humanitarian law, says Save the Children director Inger Ashing.

A villager who says he went to the scene afterwards, tells the news agency AP that the victims had fled the fighting between armed resistance groups and the government army in the state of Kayah. They were on their way to refugee camps west of Hpruso when they were stopped and killed, according to the eyewitness.

– The bodies were tied with ropes before they were set on fire, says the witness, who speaks anonymously for fear of his own safety. He says there are still tough matches going on at Mo So on Saturday.

The photo, provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), was taken in Hpruso in the state of Kayah after the massacre on Friday. The victims fled fighting in the area, an eyewitness told the news agency AP. Photo: KNDF via AP / NTB


The reports have not been verified by independent sources, writes AP, but the photos show charred remains of over 30 people in three burnt out vehicles.

Myanmar authorities have not commented on the allegations, but state media report that fighting broke out near Mo So when a guerrilla and other junta opponents drove into “suspicious” cars and attacked security forces. According to the state-run newspaper Mirror Daily, government soldiers fired at seven trucks allegedly carrying weapons and food to the rebels.

Save the Children says that the investigation of the incident is still ongoing.

“We are appalled by the violence perpetrated against innocent civilians and our employees, who are dedicated humanitarian and support millions of children across Myanmar,” said Ashing.

Air strikes

A member of a local resistance group in Hpruso tells the news agency DPA that some of the victims were alive when they were burned.

– We found some burnt bodies with tied hands. Our people were brutally killed when they tried to flee from their villages to a safe place, he says.

Myanmar has been ravaged by conflict and violence since the military coup in February when the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted. The military junta has since ruled with an iron fist and suppressed all resistance.

According to the human rights group AAPP, at least 1,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 imprisoned since the coup.

On Saturday, fighting continued in Kayah’s neighboring state of Kayin, formerly Karen State, near the border with Thailand, where thousands of people have fled. According to local officials, the Myanmar military has carried out air and air strikes on Lay Kay Kaw, a small town controlled by Karengerilia, since Christmas Eve.

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