Over 30 villagers, including women and children, were killed with their bodies burnt in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah state on Friday, according to reports and human rights organisations. The bodies were recovered from burned-out vehicles belonging to guerilla forces.
The purported photos of the aftermath of the Christmas Eve massacre in eastern Mo So village, just outside Hpruso township went viral on social media fueling outrage against the military that took power in February. The township was reportedly sheltering refugees from an army offensive, reports AP.
What happened in Mo So village?
According to reports, the incident on Friday took place due to infighting between armed resistance groups and Myanmar’s army near Koi Ngan village, which is just beside Mo So. The villagers were arrested by the troops while they were escaping to the refugee camps in the western part of the village.
The scrimmage broke out between the members of ethnic guerrilla forces, known as the Karenni National Progressive Party and the army. Those opposed to the army drove in “suspicious” vehicles and attacked security forces after refusing to stop.
The vehicles were stopped and destroyed in a fire, according to reports by local media.
Witnesses have revealed that bodies were tied to ropes before being set on fire.
The Myanmar military confirmed the murder and said that they had killed an unspecified number of people and termed them “terrorists with weapons” from the opposition.
According to Myanmar’s local media, around 10 villagers, including children and women were arrested by the army. When four members of a local paramilitary force went to negotiate their release, they were shot in the head.
Human rights organisations condemn the act
“It’s a heinous crime and the worst incident during Christmas. We strongly condemn that massacre as a crime against humanity,” said Banyar Khun Aung, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group.
Besides, two members of the United Kingdom-based humanitarian organisation, Save the Children, were reported to be missing following the massacre.
In a statement on Saturday, the organisation said, “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.”
What is happening in Myanmar
Myanmar has been in political turmoil since Februrary 1, 2021 after the Tatmadaw, Myanmar's military, overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). The military had claimed fraud in a November election that saw her party win the majority. However, the election commission and international observers have said there was no evidence to support these claims. Ever since then, Myanmar has witnessed mass killings and murders across the country.
Military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has taken power and Suu Kyi has been held on various charges. Aung San Suu Kyi was recently sentenced to two-year imprisonment for inciting violence after the military coup.
With the military back in power, the protest over the coup has been the largest since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of monks rose up against the military regime, reports BBC.
(with inputs from AP)