AFPYANGON (AFP-Jiji) — Myanmar security forces took part in a massacre of 10 Rohingya in September, the army chief’s office said late Wednesday, as it admitted for the first time abuses during a crackdown that sparked a mass exodus of the Muslim minority.
The massacre took place on Sept. 2 in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine State, the Facebook post said, as tensions escalated pitting Rohingya against security forces and ethnic Rakhine locals following the killing of a Rakhine man.
“Some villagers from Inn Din village and security members confessed they killed 10 Bengali terrorists,” the office said in its post, using a pejorative term for Rohingya and blaming militants for causing the unrest in the village.
The post also gave the first confirmation of a mass Rohingya grave inside Rakhine State following an army-led crackdown on militants from the minority group in late August.
Refugees who have fled in their hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh have given consistent accounts of massacres, rape and torture by Myanmar security forces flanked by ethnic Rakhine mobs.
Those allegations, which have been cross-checked by media and rights groups, have seen Myanmar accused of ethnic cleansing by the United States and the United Nations, and prompted questions over whether the crackdown may have amounted to genocide.
But Myanmar’s army has until now staunchly rebutted allegations of misconduct, clearing itself of any wrongdoing in an internal probe.
In its account of the Inn Din massacre the army chief’s office said security forces captured 10 Rohingya militants before killing them as violence engulfed the village and its surrounding area.
Myanmar’s army chief Min Aung Hlaing, as well as the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, have repeatedly promised to punish anyone found guilty of abuses.
But until now, Myanmar authorities have only blamed Rohingya militants for causing a human catastrophe that has left 655,000 of the minority in squalid camps in Bangladesh.