A Myanmar army general says soldiers killed at least five civilians last month and will be prosecuted, in a rare instance of the military taking responsibility for carrying out atrocities against ethnic minorities.

Head of Military Security Affairs Lt. Gen. Mya Tun Oo said at a news conference Wednesday that the army is investigating the killings of seven civilians in northern Shan State on June 25. Five were taken away by soldiers, and their battered bodies found later in shallow graves, while two motorcyclists were killed in a separate incident for which the army has not taken responsibility.

Shan activists said many people witnessed the detention of the five and the shootings.