YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar authorities have found 10 bodies buried in a mass grave on the edge of a village in Rakhine State, the military-run newspaper Myawady reported on Tuesday, a day after the army said it had launched an investigation at the site.
About 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Rakhine state and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh in recent months after a violent crackdown there by Myanmar security forces in response to attacks by militants.
Rights monitors have accused troops of atrocities, including killings, mass rape and arson during the crackdown. The United States has said it amounted to “ethnic cleansing”.
The Myanmar military has said its own internal investigation had exonerated security forces of all accusations of atrocities.
A team including police, a local administrator, judge and doctor had examined the grave site, at the village of Inn Din, about 50 km (30 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe, on Tuesday and discovered 10 unidentified bodies, Myawady said.
“This group is continuing the process of investigation to uncover the truth,” the report said. Military officials were not immediately available for further comment.
The discovery of a mass grave near a cemetery in the village was announced in a statement on the army commander-in-chief’s official Facebook page on Monday.
The village is in Maungdaw township, one of the areas worst affected by the violence that has prompted the United Nations’ top human rights official to allege that Myanmar’s security forces may have committed genocide against the Rohingya.
Myanmar’s armed forces launched what they termed clearance operations in northern Rakhine, where many of the stateless Muslim minority lived, after Rohingya militants attacked 30 police posts and an army base on Aug. 25.
Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced fierce international criticism for failing to do more to protect the Rohingya.
The civilian government, which has no control over the military, has said the army was engaged in legitimate counter-insurgency operations. It has promised to investigate allegations of abuses in Rakhine if it is given evidence.
(Reporting by Shoon Naing and Thu Thu Aung; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)