Myanmar Admission Soldiers Killed Rohingya 'an Important Step': US Envoy

Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

Sittwe: Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation after Myanmar has admitted its soldiers' role in the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims that were found in a mass grave, outside Inn Din, a village in Rakhine State.

"The United States is deeply disappointed by today's court decision in Burma to allow prosecution of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under the Official Secrets Act", according to a US State Department statement received here this morning.

Following the discovery of a mass grave in Inn Dinn village, the military launched an investigation into the incident last month.

"It was found that there were no conditions to transfer the 10 Bengali terrorists to the police station and so it was chose to kill them", the military said, referring to the findings of the investigating team.

The military refers to members of the Rohingya Muslim minority as "Bengalis", a term the Rohingya reject as implying they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The army said its personnel and Buddhist villagers were responsible for the deaths in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, home to more than half a million Rohingya who have fled across the border to Bangladesh.

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Although the Rohingya consider themselves an ethnic minority of Myanmar, numerous Buddhist majority consider them illegal foreigners from Bangladesh.

The statement also said the 10 men admitted during the detention that they were linked to the terrorist organisation and were recruits to carry out terror attacks.

Angry ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers, who had lost relatives in militant attacks, wanted to kill the captives, and stabbed them after forcing them into a grave on the outskirts of the village. Myanmar denies that, saying its forces were carrying out legitimate "clearance operations" against insurgents.

Myanmar's civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has no control over the military, but has faced fierce worldwide criticism for failing to do more to protect the Rohingya. Security forces had to protect Inn Din village because it is surrounded by Muslim villages of which residents threatened the Inn Din villagers, it said.

Because of the troops' order to maintain stability in areas where terrorist attacks have continued, security forces made a decision to kill them with the assistance of about 10 villagers including U Maung Ni's sons, said the Tatmadaw statement.

Human rights organization Amnesty International claimed the admission exposes the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, marking a "sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing".

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