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UN says 48 Muslims killed in Myanmar

Massacre by mob called worst in year

YANGON, Myanmar — At least 48 Muslims were killed when Buddhist mobs attacked a village in an isolated corner of western Myanmar earlier this month, the United Nations said Thursday, calling on the government to carry out a swift, impartial investigation and to hold those responsible accountable.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut, who has vehemently denied reports of a massacre, said he ‘‘strongly objects’’ to the UN claims.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people, has been grappling with sectarian violence since June 2012.

The incident in Du Char Yar Tan, a village in Northern Rakhine state, appears to be the deadliest in a year, and would bring the total number killed nationwide to more than 280, most of them Muslims.

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Northern Rakhine — home to 80 percent of the country’s 1 million long-persecuted Muslim Rohingyas — runs along the Bay of Bengal and is cut off from the rest of the country by a mountain range.

Evidence of a massacre, first reported by the Associated Press, has been mounting.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said she had received credible information that eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine on Jan 9. This was followed by a clash on Jan. 13 in the same village, following the reported kidnapping and killing of a police sergeant by Rohingya residents, according to witnesses and rights groups.

Pillay said the United Nations believes at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women, and children were killed, bringing the total to at least 48.

The Myanmar government has denied that any violence took place in the area, apart from the death of the police sergeant and an alleged attack by Rohingya Muslims on police.