In Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state, villagers and a lawmaker said on Thursday, April 4th, that a military helicopter attacked a group of Rohingya Muslims gathering bamboo, killing five and wounding 13. However, a military spokesman declined to comment.
However, Major-General Tun Tun Nyi said the army would release "true news" about the alleged incident in time.
Previously, in 2017, Myanmar's western Rakhine state came to global attention when the army drove about 730,000 ethnic Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh following attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts.
As a result, the United Nations accused the army of cracking down on the Muslim minority with "genocidal intent".
More recently, the military has been fighting another armed group, the Arakan Army, which recruits mostly from the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population.
The latest incident occurred in a valley in Buthidaung township, near a village that was home to Rohingya Muslim families.
"A military airstrike killed five people, including one of our villagers, at around 4 pm yesterday," Zaw Kir Ahmed, a community leader from Kin Taung village told Reuters by telephone.
"People in the village don’t dare to go out and are frightened," he added.
That same year, back in 2017, many villages around Buthidaung were razed during a campaign against the Rohingya, though the village that was home to the casualties from Wednesday's attack was spared at that time.
Since then, Myanmar’s leaders have vowed to crush all the rebels fighting for autonomy in Rakhine State, an area long scarred by complex ethnic divisions, and authorities ended up blocking most aid agencies' access to the area, raising fears of more civilian suffering.