Myanmar says 10 bodies found at Rakhine grave site

Rohingya children wait for their parents to receive aid at the Balukhali food distribution centre near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on Tuesday. (EPA-EFE photo)

YANGON: The Myanmar military says 10 bodies have so far been found in a village in strife-torn Rakhine State where human rights groups allege atrocities have been committed against Rohingya Muslims, state media reported Wednesday.

It is unclear whether the remains were those of the persecuted minority group or ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers. But the military has vowed that any troops implicated in unlawful killings will be punished.

In a brief statement late Tuesday, the military said a total of 10 bodies have been found near a cemetery in Inn Din village of Maungtaw Township and forensic work is being conducted on the exhumed bodies, according to the media.

Quoting an unidentified member of a government investigation team, local media The Irrawaddy reported that heads and skeletons belonging to 10 people have been unearthed at the burial site.

It also reported that authorities have concluded that the remains belonged to adults and are “victims of homicides” who may have been killed as long as a year ago.

In September, Amnesty International released a report that mentioned at least five Rohingya villagers being killed by security forces at Inn Din, citing accounts from residents among the more than 600,000 Rohingya who have fled across the border to Bangladesh since Aug 25.

The village is situated between two of the more than 30 police posts that were attacked by Rohingya militants then, sparking a harsh crackdown by the security forces and local militias.

Rohingya Muslims who fled have told of atrocities committed by security forces including gang rape, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, leading the United Nations to claim that the situation in Rakhine appears to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.