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UN Fears Dozens of Rohingya Killed in Myanmar Attack


FILE - Noor Islam, from Taung Bazar village in Buthidaung township, poses for a picture with a satellite image of his burnt village in Myanmar, at the Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 15, 2018.

VOA's Ira Mellman contributed to this report.

The U.N. human rights office says it fears dozens of Rohingya Muslims were killed in a military helicopter attack last week, far higher than the initial death toll of seven.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, said Monday, "We are now receiving reports that the number may be much higher than that.We have unconfirmed reports that the number may be as high as 30."

Villagers in Buthidaung township said a military helicopter attacked a group of Rohingya who were gathering bamboo on Thursday.

Shamdasani said Myanmar's military has blamed the attack on "terrorists who were supporting the Arakan army." However, she said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights rejects that accusation.

Myanmar's military blamed the attack on terrorists who support the army.

Shamdasani told VOA "the fact that civilians are suffering, the fact that civilians are dying, should not simply go unnoticed. We need to raise international attention and international concern on this."

She said the international community is watching the situation in Myanmar and is willing to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence against civilians.

Myanmar's western Rakhine state has drawn international attention in recent years following attack by Myanmar's army against ethnic Rohingya which forced more than 700,000 refugees across the border into Bangladesh.The government says the actions were in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts.

The United Nations has accused Myanmar's army of acting with "genocidal intent."

Myanmar regards Rohingya as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent.