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.
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 Ravi 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 army." However, she said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights rejects that accusation.

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

Shamdasani said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights rejects that accusation.

She said Myanmar's government must ensure "that civilians are not targeted and that heavy artillery is not used in civilian areas on the pretext of national security."

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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.