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"Absolutely horrifying": Two aid workers confirmed dead in Myanmar massacre

Photos of Myanmar massacre spark outrage
Reports of Myanmar massacre spark international outrage 00:32

The humanitarian group Save the Children says it has confirmed that two of its staff were among at least 35 people killed in a Christmas Eve attack in eastern Myanmar that's being blamed on the country's military.

The aid group says the two men were caught up in the attack in Kayah state as they were traveling back to their office after conducting humanitarian work in a nearby community. In a statement, Save the Children said their names were not being released for security reasons, but identified them as a 32-year-old with a young son who worked training teachers, and a 28-year-old with a 3-month-old daughter who had worked for the charity for six years. 

Photos of the aftermath of the massacre showed burned-out vehicles and charred remains of victims, including women and children, who who were reportedly shot by government troops as they were fleeing nearby combat. A witness described the events to The Associated Press but details could not be independently verified.

In this photo provided by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), smoke and flames billow from vehicles in Hpruso township, Kayah state, Myanmar, on Dec. 24, 2021. Government troops rounded up villagers, some believed to be women and children, fatally shot more than 30 and set the bodies on fire, a witness and other reports said. KNDF via AP

On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said it was appalled by the "barbaric attack in Kayah state that killed at least 35 civilians, including women and children."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement Tuesday saying, "The United States condemns the attacks committed on December 24 by the Burmese military in Kayah State, which killed at least 35, including women and children and two staff members of the international aid organization Save the Children. ... The targeting of innocent people and humanitarian actors is unacceptable."

He said the international community must do more to prevent such atrocities, "including by ending the sale of arms and dual-use technology to the military." 

The military has been accused of repeated attacks on opponents and civilians since ousting the elected government in February and jailing officials including the deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In the wake of the latest attack, Save the Children called on the U.N. Security Council to take steps against those responsible and urged nations to impose an arms embargo on the regime.

"This news is absolutely horrifying. Violence against innocent civilians including aid workers is intolerable, and this senseless attack is a breach of International Humanitarian Law. We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar," the organization said.

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