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13 January 2018, 12:57 | Katrina Lee
Myanmar: Military's mass grave admission exposes extrajudicial killings of Rohingya
Myanmar's military acknowledged Wednesday that its security forces and Buddhist villagers killed 10 Rohingya Muslims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in a village in troubled Rakhine state.
When security forces conducted clearance operations on September 1 near the village, about 200 people approached them with knives and sticks who the Tatmadaw statement said were "Bengali terrorists". It comes as two reporters for Reuters news agency face trial for receiving secret documents reportedly related to the massacre.
The military commander recently said it would be for the Buddhist residents of Myanmar to decide when, and how many, Rohingya returned.
Ten Rohingya in the group were captured and executed, according to an internal investigation that was launched after a mass grave was located last month.
On Wednesday, it admitted that ethnic Rakhine villagers and security forces killed the 10 Royingya Muslims in the village on September 2 past year.
The military refers to members of the Rohingya Muslim minority as "Bengalis", a term the Rohingya reject as implying they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Government forces began a sweeping crackdown against the minority group following a Rohingya militant attack on August 25.
"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".
After being informed that there was a mass grave found near Inn Din village's cemetery, a team of five investigators led by Lt-Gen Aye Win from the office of commander-in-chief of Defense Services probed the case in December past year.
The Rohingya people have been previously targeted during 1999 and 2012, and the Karenni people suffered a similar fate when their villages were burned and they faced massive killings that forced them to flee to Thailand. "This incident happened because ethnic Buddhist villagers were threatened and provoked by the terrorists".
The military investigation was led by Lieutenant General Aye Win.
Human rights organization Amnesty International claimed the admission exposes the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, marking a "sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing".
"However, it is only the tip of the iceberg and warrants serious independent investigation into what other atrocities were committed amid the ethnic cleansing campaign that has forced out more than 655,000 Rohingya from Rakhine State in August", he added.
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