The UN human rights office says it fears dozens of Rohingya civilians have been killed in a military helicopter attack in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.The UN human rights office says it fears dozens of Rohingya civilians have been killed in a military helicopter attack in Myanmar’s Rakhine state last week, despite an official government death toll of six.
Rakhine state has been roiled by conflict since 2017, when a series of attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police outposts triggered a military response that displaced more than 730,000 Rohingya civilians and killed about 10,000.
UN investigators have accused Myanmar military leaders of “genocidal intent.”
“We are now receiving reports that the number may be much higher than (six). We have unconfirmed reports that the number may be as high as 30,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, said on Tuesday.
This year, the military has turned its attention toward the Arakan Army, a Buddhist insurgent group that seeks political autonomy for Rakhine state.
More than 20,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting.
According to villagers in the state’s Buthidaung township, army helicopters fired on Rohingya labourers while they were collecting bamboo on Wednesday.
The army later confirmed the attack and placed the death toll at six.
The army-run newspaper Myawady said the victims were “together with terrorists while the army was cracking down on the Arakan Army’s terrorist activities,” but the OHCHR rejected that accusation.
They said Myanmar’s attacks on civilians “may constitute war crimes.”