Thou­sands of Ro­hingya flee to Bangladesh

No end in sight for vi­o­lence in Rakhine

Global Times - - World -

At least 18,500 Ro­hingya have crossed into Bangladesh since fight­ing erupted in Myan­mar’s neigh­bor­ing Rakhine state six days ago, the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion said Wed­nes­day.

Plumes of smoke bil­lowed from sev­eral burn­ing vil­lages in the worst- hit sec­tion of the state, ac­cord­ing to an AFP re­porter on a gov­ern­ment- led trip to the area, as the vi­o­lence showed lit­tle sign of abat­ing de­spite se­cu­rity sweeps by Myan­mar’s po­lice and troops.

The streets of Maung­daw – north­ern Rakhine’s largest town – were vir­tu­ally de­serted as fires flick­ered among charred re­mains of houses and the oc­ca­sional burst of gun­fire echoed in the dis­tance.

The clashes be­gan on Fri­day af­ter mil­i­tants from Myan­mar’s Ro­hingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity staged deadly sur­prise raids on po­lice posts.

At least 110 peo­ple, in­clud- ing 11 state of­fi­cials, have been con­firmed dead and thou­sands of Ro­hingya have poured across the bor­der to Bangladesh.

“As of last night, 18,500 peo­ple have come across,” Chris Lom, the IOM’s Asia- Pa­cific spokesman, told AFP, adding an un­known num­ber were still stuck on the Myan­mar side of the bor­der.

An es­ti­mated 6,000 Ro­hingya on Tues­day massed at the “zero line” bor­der with Bangladesh, days af­ter the area came un­der mor­tar and ma­chine gun fire by Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces.

The Ro­hingya, the world’s largest state­less mi­nor­ity and sub­ject to se­vere re­stric­tions on their move­ments, are barred from of­fi­cially cross­ing.

Bangladeshi au­thor­i­ties on Wed­nes­day tough­ened pa­trols in a bid to pre­vent more ar­rivals in a coun­try that al­ready hosts an es­ti­mated 400,000 Ro­hingya, al­beit in ab­ject con­di­tions.

Ro­hingya have sneaked across the land bor­der in large num­ber or swum the Naf River which marks part of the fron­tier

But tragedy be­fell some of them. The bod­ies of two Ro­hingya women and two chil­dren washed up on Bangladeshi soil on Wed­nes­day, an of­fi­cial there told AFP, drowned af­ter their rick­ety boat cap­sized.

Among the dead and dis­placed are also eth­nic Rakhine Buddhists and other tribal groups, who say they are be­ing tar­geted by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants.

Five eth­nic Bud­dhist men were found stabbed to death early Wed­nes­day in Maung­daw, which is un­der cur­few, Ye Htut, the town’s dis­trict chief told AFP.

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