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Rakhine general removed

New Delhi: The Myanmar army has removed the general in charge of Rakhine state, the theatre of the alleged ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, in a surprise move that seemed tailored to blunt US criticism of the handling of the crisis before secretary of state Rex Tillerson visits the country.

No reason was given for Major General Maung Maung Soe being transferred from his post as head of the western command in Rakhine, where Myanmar's military launched a sweeping counter-insurgency operation in August. During the drive, more than six lakh Rohingya Muslims were driven into Bangladesh amid reports of mass rape, torture and other crimes.

Myanmar's army released a report on Monday denying all the allegations of rape and killings by security forces.

Major General Aye Lwin, deputy director of the psychological warfare and public relations department of Myanmar's defence ministry, said: "I don't know why he was transferred.... He has been put in reserve."

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