Rohingya extremists deny massacring Hindus in Rakhine

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A key Rohingya militant group has denied slaughtering Hindu refugees in the restive state of Rakhine, rejecting the earlier accounts made by the Myanmar military. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the main outfit fighting against the military, said his members have no hand in the alleged massacre.

The Myanmar army has recently found a mass grave in Rakhine in which dead bodies of 45 Hindu refugees – many of them being women and children – were discovered. Following the findings, the army blamed the Rohingya extremists, particularly the ARSA militants, for the slaughter amid the massive humanitarian crisis in the region.

Rejecting the military's allegations, the ARSA released a statement on Wednesday, 27 September saying the organisation "categorically denies" its members launched violence against civilians.

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The group "also expresses its deepest sympathy for all victims of persecution, murder, war crime, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity, irrespective of ethnic or religious background as perpetrated by the Burmese army and/or any other party to the conflict," added the statement. ARSA asked the military to stop the "victim-blaming" in the dire crisis.

The statement comes shortly after Myanmar's military organised a trip for journalists taking them to witness the mass grave of Hindus. Exhumed bodies show the victims were blindfolded, their hands ties while their throats were slit. Victims' relatives were grieving as the bodies were laid out on a grass field.

The army said the Hindus are thought to have been killed on 25 August – the same day when extremists mounted against Myanmar's military, triggering the latest bout of fighting in the region. Security personnel are also searching for dozens of missing Hindus in the area.

According to the latest figures released by the UN, more than 480,000 people have fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh since late August.

Hindu villagers react as they identify the bodies of their relatives found by government forces, that authorities suspected were killed by insurgents last month, in a mass grave near Maungdaw in the north of Myanmar's Rakhine stateSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters

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