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Annan Urges Respect for Civilians in West Myanmar Violence

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, center, chairman of the advisory commission on Rakhine State, talks to journalists during a press briefing along with commission members Mya Thidar, left, and Saw Khin Tint, right, at a hotel Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, seeking reconciliation among ethnic groups in fractious western Myanmar, has urged the army to respect civilians' rights as concerns rise about treatment of the Rohingya minority.

Annan spoke Tuesday after a three-day trip to Rakhine state, where the army has been conducting aggressive sweeps since October, when unidentified armed men killed nine policemen manning posts along the border with Bangladesh.

Human rights groups accuse the army of abuses including rape, the killing of hundreds of civilians and the burning of villages. The army denies the allegations.

Annan heads a commission appointed in August by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to recommend measures to ease tensions between the Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists in the Buddhist-majority nation.