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US Officials Concerned About 2 Reporters Detained in Myanmar

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec. 11, 2017.

The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar has said it is concerned about two Reuters journalists who were arrested three days ago in the country, which is also known as Burma.

The embassy said in a statement Friday that there has been no word from Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, since their arrest, and authorities have not allowed their families to visit.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters Friday that the U.S. is concerned anytime reporters are arrested for doing their jobs.

Reuters President Stephen Adler released a statement Wednesday saying Reuters is “outraged” by a “blatant attack on press freedom.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that the arrests are a signal that press freedom is shrinking in Myanmar. He said the international community must do all it can to get them released.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on stories about a military crackdown on Rakhine state, home to the ethnic minority Rohingya. A military crackdown in that area has driven an estimated 600,000 Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh.

The United Nations has called the crackdown “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo went missing Tuesday after being invited to dinner with police officials on the northern outskirts of the capital, Yangon. Myanmar's Ministry of Information said the reporters “Illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media.”

The ministry has released a photo of the two men in handcuffs, although it has not officially notified Reuters of their status. A court official in Yangon told Reuters the men could be held for as long as 28 days without being charged.

Carla Babb at the Pentagon contributed to this report.