AP, 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 Chee 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. Another 250,000 people have fled their homes. Northern Rakhine – home to 80 per cent of the country’s 1 million long-persecuted Muslim Rohingya population – runs along the Bay of Bengal and is cut off from the rest of the country by a mountain range. It is off-limits to foreign journalists and humanitarian aid workers have limited access, adding to the difficulties of confirming details about the violence, which flared more than a week ago. But evidence of a massacre, first reported by The Associated Press, has been steadily mounting, with injured victims The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, 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. That triggered a security crackdown. Most Rohingya men and boys – who typically flee when soldiers and police are thought to be approaching, because it is they who usually bear the brunt of abuses – fled the village in fear, leaving behind mostly women and children. Police did nothing to stop revenge-seeking a Buddhist mob that entered later that night with knives, sticks and swords, witnesses and rights groups said. Pillay said the UN believes at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children were killed, bringing the total to at least 48. “I deplore the loss of life … and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice,” she said. “By responding to these incidents quickly and decisively, the government has an opportunity to show transparency and accountability, which will strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar.” The village has been emptied and sealed off since the massacre. The humanitarian aid group, Medicins san Frontiers, or Doctors Without Borders, which has several clinics in the area, said it has treated at least 22 patients, including several wounded, who are believed to be victims of the violence. “MSF continues to be concerned by reports that there may be unmet medical needs among the affected population and stands ready to support local health authorities in providing medical care to those in need,” the group said in a statement.