Bodies of 45 Hindus have been discovered in three mass graves in the Myanmar’s conflict-torn northern Rakhine state, the officials said blaming Muslim insurgents for the killings.
Rakhine state has been in a turmoil since August 25 after Rohingya militants launched deadly attacks on police posts.
Border Guard Police Maj. Zayar Nyein told Associated Press that two of the graves, that were found on Monday, contained bodies of 20 females and eight males.
Myanmar says its forces are fighting terrorists responsible for attacking the police and the army, killing civilians and torching villages. The military campaign has sent nearly 440,000 refugees fleeing to Bangladesh, most of them Rohingya. They have accused the security forces and Buddhist vigilantes of trying to drive Rohingya out of Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
“The Burmese military is brutally expelling the Rohingya from northern Rakhine State,” said James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch. “The massacres of villagers and mass arson driving people from their homes are all crimes against humanity.”
The International Criminal Court defines crimes against humanity as acts including murder, torture, rape and deportation “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.
Police have blamed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army insurgent group or ARSA.
Security forces say the bodies are among about 100 Hindus missing since ARSA attacked at least 30 police outposts August 25. There was no immediate way to independently verify the government’s assertions. The ARSA is the group whose raids on police posts in August triggered a military backlash that resulted in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing for Bangladesh.