The United Nations has condemned an attack against civilians in Myanmar’s Kayah state in which unknown assailants reportedly forced nearly three dozen people, including at least one child, from their vehicles, killed them and burned their bodies.
According to reports, junta forces killed at least 35 people and set their bodies alight along with their vehicles on the afternoon of Dec. 24 near Moso village in Kayah’s Hpruso township. Members of the ethnic Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) told RFA’s Myanmar Service that women and children were among those slaughtered.
News of the killings prompted a statement of condemnation on Sunday from Martin Griffiths, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, who said he was “horrified” by the reports and demanded a probe into the attack.
“I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement.
“I call upon the authorities to immediately commence a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident so that perpetrators can be swiftly brought to justice. Moreover, I call upon the Myanmar Armed Forces and all armed groups in Myanmar to take all measures to protect civilians from harm.”
Myanmar was thrown into political crisis on Feb. 1 when the military seized power from the country’s democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government in a coup. In the more than 10 months since, the military has killed at least 1,377 civilians and arrested nearly 8,300 others, mostly during widespread peaceful protests of the junta. The military has also launched offensives against several armed ethnic groups and prodemocracy People’s Defense Force militias in the country’s remote border regions.
Griffiths noted that amid the political chaos, “millions of people in Myanmar remain in dire need of humanitarian support,” and pledged continued assistance from the U.N. and its humanitarian partners.
As of Monday, 27 of those killed in the attack had been identified, although 14 people reported to be traveling in the area remain missing, including two workers with Save the Children, a U.K.-based aid organization. Save the Children’s Myanmar office confirmed over the weekend that a car used by their group was found burned near Moso village.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES