Myanmar Faces Truth, Admits Soldiers Behind Rohingya Mass Grave

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

The military of Myanmar has admitted that its soldiers killed 10 captured Rohingya Muslims, who they labelled "terrorists".

The office of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing confirmed Wednesday that security forces took part in killing "Bengali terrorists" on September 2 in the village of Inn Din in Maungdaw, using a pejorative term for Rohingya.

After two attacks in last two years each by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, whom government declared as "terrorist organization", the Tatmadaw conducted clearance operations in the northern Rakhine, which drew criticism from overseas, accusing Myanmar's security forces of committed human rights abuses.

"It was found that there were no conditions to transfer the 10 Bengali terrorists to the police station and so it was made a decision to kill them", the military said, referring to the findings of the investigating team.

Matthew Smith, co-founder and chief executive of Fortify Rights, said the group, based in Bangkok, had documented similar atrocities across the northern Rakhine State, where a military crackdown prompted by Rohingya militant attacks has driven more than 650000 Rohingya to flee the country.

The military said legal action would be taken against members of the security forces who violated their rules of engagement in killing the 10 suspected insurgents, and against ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers who were also involved.

In the past, the military has retaliated against Rohingya villages following such attacks.

The military announced on December 18 that a mass grave containing 10 bodies had been found at the coastal village of Inn Din, about 50 km (30 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe.

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.

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

Myanmar has been accused of blocking journalists from traveling independently to Rakhine to look first-hand at the crackdown, and to verify refugees' claims of murder, mass rape and burning of villages by security forces.

The military denied all accusations of significant human rights abuses in a report released in November following an investigation.

Both the United Nations and U.S. have stated that he military's action has amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in majority Buddhist Myanmar.

James Gomez, Amnesty International's Southeast Asia and Pacific director, said the acknowledgement marked "a sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing".

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