By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The United States and United Nations voiced concern Thursday after a report detailed extensive mass graves in Myanmar's western Rakhine state.
The Associated Press (AP) led the investigation that uncovered what it said are at least five previously unreported mass graves in the conflict-ridden area.
“It was a mixed-up jumble of corpses piled on top of each other,” Noor Kadir, a 24-year-old firewood collector, told the AP as he recounted his discovery of two sites.
The Myanmarese government denies carrying out mass slaughter of the persecuted minority Rohingya Muslims in the region, but the AP's report indicates a "systematic slaughter" it said has been carried out by Myanmar's military. The AP said the mass graves it uncovered are just the latest piece of evidence of genocide being carried out by Naypyidaw.
Reacting to the "extremely troubling" report, the UN said it "underscores the need for the UN to have access to Rakhine state".
“We don’t have the access we would like to have, and it’s very important for us to have access to verify these reports," said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The U.S. said it is "deeply troubled" by the report, echoing the UN's concerns over the lack of access to the region.
"We remain focused on helping to ensure the accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
"With the help of forensic experts, an investigation would help provide a more comprehensive picture of exactly what happened. The world needs to know exactly what happened there."
More than 650,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25, 2017 when Myanmar forces launched a bloody crackdown.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published on Dec. 12, 2017, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.