Yangon: Myanmar security forces and Buddhist villagers took part in a massacre of 10 Rohingya in September, the army chief’s office said on 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 September 2 in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine state, the military commander-in-chief’s Facebook posting 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 crackdown on militants from the minority group.
In its account, the officer said security forces captured 10 Rohingya militants Muslims widely referred to as “Bengali terrorists” before killing them as violence engulfed Inn Din village and its surrounding area.
“It is true that both the villagers and security forces admitted they killed the 10 Bengali terrorists,” the military statement said. “The army will take charge of those who are responsible for the killings and who broke the rules of engagement. This incident happened because ethnic Buddhist villagers were threatened and provoked by the terrorists.”
“The decision was made to kill them at a cemetery,” the post added.
Rohingya militant attacks on 25 August, has prompted more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslim villagers to flee the country.
Refugees who have fled in their hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Bangladesh have given consistent accounts of massacres 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 US and UN and prompted questions over whether the army 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.