YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s army said on Wednesday that it had appointed a senior officer to investigate whether any members of the security forces were involved in the killing of 10 people whose bodies have been uncovered in a mass grave in Rakhine State.
A violent crackdown by the security forces in response to attacks by militants in the western state has caused around 650,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh in recent months.
The discover of the grave, at the village of Inn Din, about 50 km (30 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe, was announced by the military two days ago.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page of the military’s commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the army said a five-member investigation team had left the capital Naypyitaw on Wednesday.
The team, led by Lieutenant General Aye Win, would “investigate whether the security forces took part or not, in relation to the unidentified dead bodies found in Inn Din village graveyard”.
It gave no further details and military officials were not immediately available for comment.
General Aye Win is the same officer who led a wider probe into the conduct of troops in a conflict that began in late August, which concluded in a report last month that no atrocities took place.
Myanmar’s armed forces launched what they termed clearance operations in northern Rakhine, where many of the stateless Muslim minority lived, after Rohingya militants attacked 30 police posts and an army base on Aug. 25.
Rights monitors have accused troops of abuses, including killings, mass rape and arson during those operations. The United States has said it amounted to “ethnic cleansing”.
Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced fierce international criticism for failing to do more to protect the Rohingya.
The civilian government, which has no control over the military, has said the army was engaged in legitimate counter-insurgency operations. It has promised to investigate allegations of abuses in Rakhine if it is given evidence.
Reporting by Simon Lewis and Thu Thu Aung; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan