Save The Children says staff killed in Myanmar had young children

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Save The Children has said that its staff members who were killed in an alleged attack by the Myanmar military on Christmas eve were both young fathers with months-old children.

“It is with profound sadness that we are confirming today that two members of Save the Children’s staff were among at least 35 people, including women and children, who were killed on Friday 24th December in an attack by the Myanmar military in Kayah State, in the east of the country,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

One man was 32 years old, with a 10-month-old son, and had worked at the organisation for two years, training teachers. The other man was 28 years old and had a three-month-old daughter. He had joined the organisation six years ago.

Their names have not been released due to security concerns.

The group said that the staff members were returning 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,” the group said.

In a statement, the UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Debora Comini, condemned the attack and called for a probe.

“UNICEF calls for urgent action to investigate this deplorable incident and to hold those responsible to account”, she said. “We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to our colleagues at Save the Children.”

Save the Children suspended its operations in Myanmar after its staff members were reported missing last week.

In February this year, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, staged a coup d’état, ousting the elected government and arresting officials including Aung San Suu Kyi. The south Asian country has been in turmoil since then. Civilians have been taking up arms in protest, and have demanded the restoration of democracy.

The coup also sparked international outcry, and security forces quashed nonviolent nationwide demonstrations with force, killing almost 1,400 civilians, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The National Unity Government, a broad alliance of anti-coup organisations that include members of Ms Suu Kyi’s ousted ruling party, has backed the training and formation of militias called the People’s Defence Forces and has declared a nationwide rebellion against military rule.