Thou­sands of Ro­hingya flee for Bangladesh as fresh vi­o­lence erupts in Myan­mar

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh/YANGON (Reuters) - Thou­sands of Ro­hingya Mus­lims flee­ing vi­o­lence in Myan­mar are try­ing to cross the border with Bangladesh, Bangladeshi se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, as fresh fight­ing erupted in Myan­mar’s north­west­ern Rakhine state.

The death toll from wide­spread at­tacks staged by Ro­hingya in­sur­gents on Fri­day has climbed to 96, in­clud­ing nearly 80 in­sur­gents and 12 mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces, the gov­ern­ment said, prompt­ing it to evac­u­ate staff and vil­lagers from some ar­eas.

The at­tacks marked a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion of a con­flict that has sim­mered since last Oc­to­ber, when a sim­i­lar of­fen­sive prompted a ma­jor mil­i­tary sweep be­set by al­le­ga­tions of se­ri­ous hu­man rights abuses.

The treat­ment of ap­prox­i­mately 1.1 mil­lion Mus­lim Ro­hingya in mainly Bud­dhist Myan­mar has emerged as the big­gest chal­lenge for na­tional leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who late on Fri­day con­demned the morn­ing raids - in which in­sur­gents wield­ing guns, sticks and home­made bombs as­saulted 30 po­lice sta­tions and an army base.

The No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate has been ac­cused by some Western crit­ics of not speak­ing out for the long-per­se­cuted Mus­lim mi­nor­ity, and of de­fend­ing the army’s coun­terof­fen­sive af­ter the Oc­to­ber at­tacks.

Some 3,000 Ro­hingya ar­rived at the Naf river sep­a­rat­ing Myan­mar and Bangladesh yes­ter­day, Manzu­rul Has­san Khan, a Bangladeshi border guard com­man­der, told Reuters.

“About 500 Ro­hingya, mostly women and chil­dren, spent the last night in a marshy area wait­ing to cross over,” said Khan. “We pro­tected them the whole night. To­day they went back.”

Reuters re­porters saw hun­dreds of Ro­hingya crossing into Bangladesh near the border village of Gumd­hum as gun shots could be heard from the Myan­mar side. They could be seen squat­ting in a marshy area, hid­ing in the bushes from border guards.

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