Myanmar: Soldiers, villagers killed Rohingya in mass grave

Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Security forces had been conducting a "clearance operation" in the area on Sept.1 when "200 Bengali terrorists attacked using sticks and swords", the military said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of its commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. It comes as two reporters for Reuters news agency face trial for receiving secret documents reportedly related to the massacre.

His words echoed a comment from the spokesperson from the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Myanmar yesterday, who said: "The (military) statement underscores the need for an independent investigation and media reporting on allegations of such human rights violations".

Following the discovery of a mass grave in Inn Dinn village, the military launched an investigation into the incident last month.

"It is true that both the villagers and security forces admitted they killed the 10 Bengali terrorists", the military statement said.

Myanmar terms Rohingya Muslims as Bengalis and does not recognise them as one of its ethnic groups.

The 10 bodies were found in December in a mass grave near a cemetery in Inn Din village.

The head of Myanmar's government and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to recognize the crimes committed against the Rohingya people, denying charges of "ethnic cleansing".

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The Facebook statement goes on to say that the militant attacks had destroyed their military vehicles with explosives (despite having just noted that they were armed with melee weapons).

Angry ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers, who had lost relatives in militant attacks, wanted to kill the captives, and stabbed them after forcing them into a grave on the outskirts of the village.

Myanmar's civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has no control over the military, but has faced fierce global criticism for failing to do more to protect the Rohingya.

Villagers had dug a pit and the men were ordered to enter it, where they were shot by the security forces.

"Villagers and members of the security forces have confessed that they committed murder", the military said in the statement, promising that those responsible would be "dealt according with the law".

"This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing", James Gomez, Amnesty International's regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, told RFA.

The U.N. and other groups accuse the military of widespread atrocities against Rohingya, including killings, rapes and the burning of homes.

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