Myanmar government forces discovered bodies of 28 Hindus, including women and children, in violence-wracked Rakhine state.
The government of the country suspected that they were killed by Muslim insurgents last month, at the beginning of a spasm of violence that has sent 430,000 Muslim Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, reports Reuters.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgent group denied killing the Hindus saying it did not attack civilians.
“They forced eight female villagers to convert to the Islamic religion and took them to Bangladesh,” the government said.
A government spokesman, Zaw Htay, said the security forces were investigating.
Access to the area by journalists as well as human rights workers and aid workers is largely restricted and Reuters could not independently verify the report.
An ARSA spokesman said he believed Buddhist nationalists trying to divide Hindus and Muslims were behind the “lies” that ARSA militants had killed the villagers.
“ARSA has internationally pledged not to target civilians and that remains unchanged no matter what,” the spokesman, who is based in a neighboring country and identified himself only as Abdullah, told Reuters through a messaging service.
The latest violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State began on Aug. 25 when ARSA militants attacked about 30 police posts and an army camp, killing about 12 people.
The United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing a sweeping government offensive in the north of Rakhine State in response to those attacks.