Bangkok, Dec 29 (EFE).- Unicef said four children were among the at least 35 people killed in a massacre of civilians in Myanmar’s eastern Kayah state, allegedly perpetrated by the armed forces.
“Two 17-year-old boys, a teenage girl and a child of approximately 5-6 years of age, of indeterminate gender” were killed in the attack, the international body said in a statement issued in Bangkok late Tuesday, citing “credible reports.”
“Unicef strongly condemns this attack on civilians, children and humanitarian workers,” said Debora Comini, Unicef’s regional director for east Asia and the Pacific.
“The protection of civilians, and particularly children and humanitarian workers, must be treated as a priority during times of conflict, in accordance with international humanitarian law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Myanmar is a signatory,” she added, demanding “urgent action to investigate this deplorable incident and to hold those responsible to account.”
The NGO Save The Children had also confirmed on Tuesday that two of its humanitarian workers, who it had previously reported missing, were found among the victims of the attack.
The two men were new fathers dedicated to the education of children, it said, adding that they had been “on their way back to their office after working on a humanitarian response in a nearby community when they were caught up in the attack. The military forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many and burnt the bodies.”
“We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians” said Inger Ashing, chief executive of Save the Children.
The burned bodies were found on Dec. 24 in Kayah, one of the states in embroiled in conflict between the military and civilian militias opposed to the coup.
United States’ Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday night joined the international condemnation of the attack and the military campaign deployed in the neighboring state of Karen, where the army has reportedly used air strikes against civilian populations.
“The United States condemns the attacks committed by the Burmese military in Kayah and Karen States, which killed at least 35 innocent people,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.
“We support efforts, including the @UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, to promote accountability for those responsible.”
Myanmar has spiraled into crisis and further violence since the military led by Min Aung Hlaing seized power in the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
In addition to peaceful protests and a civil disobedience movement, civilian militias have taken up arms alongside ethnic guerrillas that have been in conflict with the military for decades.
After 10 months since the coup, the military junta still does not have the support of the majority of the country despite the violence unleashed against dissent, which has caused at least 1,380 deaths, according to the Association of Assistance to Political Prisoners. EFE