Police in Myanmar have identified a suspect in a string of deadly attacks on Muslims in Rakhine state as a police officer.
The police chief said on Saturday that they had identified the suspect, who they described as a “disruptive” and “dangerous” informant.
Police have not named the suspect and have not commented on the claims, but the claims follow a statement by the state’s Chief Justice on Friday that the killing of a Muslim in a suspected terrorism attack was “un-Islamic”.
The court also said the killing was “not a murder of a person” and that the person responsible “has no relation with Islam”.
The statements came amid an escalating wave of attacks on the minority Muslim community in Myanmar, where the government says a surge in attacks has left more than 1,000 people dead and more than 700,000 internally displaced people.
The Rohingya are a minority group in Myanmar and say they are illegally displaced from their homes in the northern Rakhines state by successive governments that failed to acknowledge their rights and rights abuses.
Since last week, Myanmar has been under a state of emergency, with authorities blaming attacks by the armed group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for triggering violence.
Rakhines authorities say they have arrested at least 15 suspects over the killings of Rohingya Muslims and at least 10 of their alleged helpers.
They say the suspects are “disrupters”, and are being held on suspicion of murder and kidnapping.
An investigation into the killings by the Myanmar police is ongoing.
On Friday, a statement from the state government’s police chief quoted by state-run media said the suspect was identified as a former police officer who had served in the western province of Maungdaw, where Rakhina Rakhmawin State is located.
“Inspector (Maungdan) Tawin was a leader in the anti-terrorism unit, a member of the counter-terrorism task force and a senior police official in Maungtaw State,” the statement said.
Tawin had also served as the regional police chief in Rangoon and had been a member “of the anti-[terror] task force”.
The statement did not identify the person or persons responsible for the killings.
The police chief also said that there was no evidence to suggest that Tawins alleged involvement in the killings had been confirmed by the police.
“There is no evidence that any crime has been committed by the accused, as he has been in the country for some time,” the police chief’s statement said, without elaborating.
However, the police did say that there were “strong indications” that the suspect had killed a number of Muslims, and that there had been “disparate attacks” against Muslims.
In response to the statement, a group of people protesting against the killings said the police had a “right” to make the statement.
One of the protesters, Rakhan Aung Myint, said the government should release more information on the investigation.
According to the government, there were no links between the suspected killer and the ARSA.
“The murder of an innocent person is a crime.
There is no connection between the suspect who is arrested and the murder of the innocent person,” police spokesman Satchidananda told Reuters news agency.