UN: Attacks in Myanmar′s Rakhine state could be ′war crimes′ | News | DW | 06.04.2019
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UN: Attacks in Myanmar's Rakhine state could be 'war crimes'

The UN has said it has "credible reports" of recent Rohingya civilian deaths and abductions at the hands of Myanmar's military in the state of Rakhine. The UN said the attacks "may constitute war crimes."

The United Nations human rights agency on Friday condemned recent fighting between Myanmar's army and guerrillas of the Rakhine insurgent group known as the Arakan Army.

The spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, said the agency had "credible reports of the killing of civilians, burning of houses, arbitrary arrests, abductions, indiscriminate fire in civilian areas and damage to cultural property."

"We are deeply disturbed by the intensification of the conflict in Rakhine state in recent weeks," Shamdasani told a press conference in Geneva. "The Myanmar military is again carrying out attacks against its own civilians — attacks which may constitute war crimes."

Read more: Rohingya conflict: What constitutes genocide?

Watch video 01:56

Concerns for safety of Rohingya returning to Myanmar

Deadly aerial attack

Shamdasani said 4,000 Rohingya had fled villages to the north of the port town of Sittwe in the last week of March.

On April 3, military helicopters flew over one village in this area and opened fire on farmers in their fields, killing at least seven civilians and injuring 18, she added.

Shamdasani also said the civilian victims included Buddhist Rakhines and Rohingya Muslims as well as other ethnicities.

Myanmar's military announced Friday that the aerial attack killed six Rohingya Muslims and wounded several others and that those killed and injured were affiliated with an armed rebel group.

Read more: Rohingya people in Myanmar: What you need to know

Recent fighting displaces 20,000

In 2016, the Myanmar army launched a brutal crackdown on the Muslim minority Rohingya in Rakhine state, driving about 730,000 ethnic Rohingya across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. The army operation followed attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts.

Shamdasani said recent fighting in Rakhine state had led to the displacement of more than 20,000 civilians.

Read more: Myanmar's Rohingya: A history of forced exoduses

"The impact of the violence on civilians in northern Rakhine has been exacerbated by the government's near-suspension of humanitarian access since January 2019," she said.

The UN has previously accused the army of "genocidal intent" in its crackdown on the Muslim minority.

law/tj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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