Two staff members of the Save the Children humanitarian organization have gone missing following a massacre of nearly 40 people in eastern Myanmar by the Burmese military on Christmas Eve.
Myanmar’s military is reported to have stopped, attacked and burned three vehicles in the country’s eastern Kayah State, killing 38 people, including women and children.
Save the Children said in a statement that their two staff members who were returning from conducting a humanitarian response, are believed to have been “caught up in the incident.”
“We have confirmation that their private vehicle was attacked and burned out. The military reportedly forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed others and burned their bodies,” said the organization.
Due to the incident, Save the Children said it will be suspending operations in Kayah Chin as well parts of Magway and Kayin, though the group said it remained “committed” to helping Myanmar’s children.
“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. Investigations into the nature of the incident are continuing but attacks against aid workers cannot be tolerated,” said Chief Executive Inger Ashing.
The military junta claimed that the vehicles failed to stop for inspection as ordered and “terrorists” among them began shooting, causing the military to return fire The New York Times reported. The military did not mention burning the cars.
In a statement on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy in Burma wrote, “We are appalled by this barbaric attack in Kayah state that killed at least 35 civilians, including women and children. We will continue to press for accountability for the perpetrators of the ongoing campaign of violence against the people of Burma.”
We are appalled by this barbaric attack in Kayah state that killed at least 35 civilians, including women and children. We will continue to press for accountability for the perpetrators of the ongoing campaign of violence against the people of Burma. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar https://t.co/Qz1eytOWGL
— U.S. Embassy Burma (@USEmbassyBurma) December 26, 2021