Myanmar police are investigating the murder of four people in northern Rakhine state, the government said on Tuesday, days after ending a military campaign in the area the UN has compared to ethnic cleansing.
The corpses of three women and a man were found buried in a field near Luuphanpyin village in Maungdaw township last Thursday, according to the office of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“A man’s dead body was found with deep wounds in the left armpit and the head cracked open,” her office said in a statement.
“Two of the three women had deep wounds on their backs and broken spines. The other had no (visible) internal injuries,” the statement said without detailing who the victims were.
The bodies were discovered the day after the government announced the end of army “clearance operations” in the north of the ethnically divided state that were launched to find militants who attacked police posts in October.
The UN has said this was used as a cover for a four-month crackdown in which security forces butchered hundreds of Rohingya Muslims.
Some 73,000 of them have since fled to southern Bangladesh, bringing harrowing accounts of how troops gang-raped women, murdered babies and burnt families alive.
Military crackdown amounted to ‘ethnic cleansing’
UN investigators who interviewed escapees say the violence is so severe it “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
For months Myanmar has curtailed access to the strip of land near the Bangladesh border and vehemently rejected similar allegations collected by rights groups and journalists.
But the UN’s report has struck a nerve, piling pressure on Suu Kyi’s young government.
Since it was released this month, state media has carried almost daily updates on the movements of a state-backed commission tasked with probing allegations of abuse in Rakhine.
Critics have rejected the body, which is led by retired general-turned-vice president Myint Swe and includes no Muslims, as toothless.
The UN’s top official on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, has said it is “not a credible option” and called for an international investigation into the claims.
Myanmar’s persecution of the more than one million Rohingya who live in Rakhine state has long drawn international criticism.
They are loathed by most people in the Buddhist-majority country, who consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and forced to live in conditions akin to apartheid.