YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar officials said Monday they have discovered at least 45 slain Hindus in three mass graves in the Southeast Asian country’s conflict-torn northern Rakhine state. The government blames Muslim insurgents for the killings.
Two of the graves were found Sunday and contained the bodies of 20 females and eight males, Border Guard Police Maj. Zayar Nyein said. The government’s Information Committee said on its Facebook page that all eight males were boys, including six who were younger than 10 years of age.
It said another mass grave was discovered 200 meters away on Monday that contained the bodies of 17 more Hindu villagers.
Police blame 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 Aug. 25.
There was no immediate way to independently verify the government’s assertions.
A government crackdown that followed the attacks left more than 200 Rohingya Muslim villages burned and sent at least 420,000 Rohingya fleeing into Bangladesh. The government has said most of the hundreds of people who were killed were insurgents.
The Information Committee said the bodies were found in Yebawkya village of Maungdaw township, which was hardest hit by the violence.
It said a Hindu man who lived in the village and has since fled to Bangladesh told a local leader that ARSA insurgents took about 100 Hindus from the village and killed all of them except for eight women who were forced to convert to Islam and brought to Bangladesh.
The committee said nearby residents searched and found the pits holding the bodies in the northwest part of the village.