The United Nations has condemned the reported attack on civilians in Myanmar’s Kayah state that killed nearly three dozen people, including at least one child.
Reports said state military forces killed at least 35 people and set their bodies on fire along with their vehicles on the afternoon of December 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 killed.
Martin Griffiths, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, 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,” 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,” added Griffiths.
“Moreover, I call upon the Myanmar Armed Forces and all armed groups in Myanmar to take all measures to protect civilians from harm,” he said.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, also condemned the killing
In a statement released on Monday, December 27, the prelate described the incident as
“heart-breaking and horrific atrocity which I condemn fully and unreservedly with all my heart.”
“Grieving, I pray fervently for the victims, their loved ones and the survivors of this unspeakable and despicable act of inhumane barbarity,” added the cardinal.
“The fact that the bodies of those killed, burned, and mutilated were found on Christmas Day makes this appalling tragedy even more poignant and sickening,” he said.
Myanmar was thrown into political crisis on February 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.”
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 UK-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. – with a report from Radio Free Asia