Ro­hingya mil­i­tants open to peace talks with myan­mar

On 25 Au­gust, the mil­i­tants killed a dozen peo­ple in co­or­di­nated at­tacks launched on about 30 se­cu­rity posts with the help of hun­dreds of Ro­hingya vil­lagers.

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Mus­lim Ro­hingya mil­i­tants said on Sat­ur­day t hey are ready to re­spond to any peace move by the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment but a onemonth cease­fire they de­clared to en­able the de­liv­ery of aid in vi­o­lence-racked Rakhine State is about to end.

The Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA) did not say what ac­tion it would take af­ter the cease­fire ends at mid­night on Mon­day but it was “de­ter­mined to stop the tyranny and op­pres­sion” waged against the Ro­hingya peo­ple.

“If at any stage, the Bur- mese gov­ern­ment is in­clined to peace, then ARSA will wel­come that in­cli­na­tion and re­cip­ro­cate,” the group said in a state­ment.

Gov­ern­ment spokes­men were not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment. When the ARSA an­nounced its one- month cease­fire from 10 Septem­ber, a gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “We have no pol­icy to ne­go­ti­ate with ter­ror­ists.”

The rebels launched co­or­di­nated at­tacks on about 30 se­cu­rity posts and an army camp on 25 Au­gust with the help of hun­dreds of dis­af­fected Ro­hingya vil­lagers, many wield­ing sticks or ma­chetes, killing about a dozen peo­ple.

In re­sponse, the military un­leashed a sweep­ing of­fen­sive across the north of Rakhine State, driv­ing more than half a mil­lion Ro­hingya vil­lagers into Bangladesh in what the United Nations branded a text­book ex­am­ple of “eth­nic cleans­ing”.

Myan­mar re­jects that. It says more than 500 peo­ple have been killed in the fight­ing, most of them “ter­ror­ists” who have been at­tack­ing civil­ians and torch­ing vil­lages.

The abil­ity of the ARSA, which only sur­faced in Oc­to­ber last year, to mount any sort of chal­lenge to the Myan­mar army is not known but it does not ap­pear to have been able to put up re­sis­tance to the military of­fen­sive un­leashed in Au­gust.

In­evitably, there are doubts about how the in­sur­gents can op­er­ate in ar­eas where the military has driven out the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, cut­ting the in­sur­gents off from re­cruits, food, funds and in­for­ma­tion. The ARSA ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of us­ing mur­der, ar­son and rape as “tools of de­pop­u­la­tion”. The ARSA de­nies links to for­eign Is­lamists.

In an in­ter­view with Reuters in March, ARSA leader Ata Ul­lah linked the cre­ation of the group to com­mu­nal vi­o­lence be­tween Bud­dhists and Mus­lims in Rakhine in 2012, when nearly 200 peo­ple were killed and 140,000, mostly Ro­hingya, dis­placed.

The group says it is fight­ing for the rights of the Ro­hingya, who have never been re­garded as an in­dige­nous mi­nor­ity in Myan­mar and so have been de­nied cit­i­zen­ship un­der a law that links na­tion­al­ity to eth­nic­ity.

The group re­peated their de­mand that Ro­hingya be recog­nised as a “na­tive in­dige­nous” eth­nic group, adding that all Ro­hingya peo­ple should be al­lowed “to re­turn home safely with dig­nity ... to freely de­ter­mine their po­lit­i­cal sta­tus and pur­sue their eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment”.

The Ro­hingya have long faced dis­crim­i­na­tion and re­pres­sion in Rakhine State where bad blood be­tween them and eth­nic Rakhine Bud­dhists, stem­ming from vi­o­lence by both sides, goes back gen­er­a­tions.

Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced scathing crit­i­cism for not do­ing more to stop the vi­o­lence, al­though a military-drafted con­sti­tu­tion gives her no power over the se­cu­rity forces.

Suu Kyi has con­demned rights abuses and said Myan­mar was ready to start a process agreed with Bangladesh in 1993 by which any­one ver­i­fied as a refugee would be ac­cepted back. Many refugees fear they will not have the pa­per­work they be­lieve Myan­mar will de­mand to al­low them back. Po­lice and FBI agents, chas­ing down more than 1,000 dead­end leads since a gun­man killed 58 peo­ple in Las Ve­gas, are seek­ing more help from the public in solv­ing the cen­tral mys­tery of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion - the shooter’s mo­tive.

Clark County Un­der­sh­er­iff Kevin McMahill said in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­main largely in the dark about what drove re­tired real es­tate in­vestor and high-stakes gam­bler Stephen Pad­dock to carry out the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing in mod­ern US his­tory.

“We have looked at ev­ery­thing, lit­er­ally, to in­clude the sus­pect’s per­sonal life, any po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, his so­cial be­hav­iors, eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, any po­ten­tial rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion,” McMahill told re­porters late on Fri­day. “We have been down each and every sin­gle one of these paths, try­ing to de­ter­mine why, to de­ter­mine who else may have known of these plans.”

McMahill ac­knowl­edged that Is­lamic State had re­peat­edly claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, but said in­ves­ti­ga­tors had un­cov­ered “no nexus” be­tween the Mideast-based mil­i­tant group and Pad­dock.

In an un­usual bid to cast a wider net for tips, the FBI and po­lice have ar­ranged with com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany Clear Chan­nel to post bill­boards around Las Ve­gas urg­ing cit­i­zens to come for­ward with any in­for­ma­tion they be­lieve might help in­ves­ti­ga­tors. The bill­boards will bear the slo­gan, “If you know some­thing, say some­thing,” and carry a toll-free num­ber to an FBI hot­line, said Aaron Rouse, spe­cial agent in charge of the Las Ve­gas FBI of­fice.

The public ap­peal came a day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was slated to join Mayor Carolyn Good­man and other lo­cal lead­ers at a City Hall com­mem­o­ra­tion for vic­tims of the shoot­ing, fol­low­ing a prayer walk through the city. President Don­ald Trump paid a visit to Las Ve­gas ear­lier in the week.

Pad­dock, 64, un­leashed a tor­rent of gun­fire onto an out­door mu­sic fes­ti­val from the win­dows of his 32nd-floor ho­tel suite over­look­ing the con­cert on Sun­day night, then shot him­self to death before po­lice stormed his room.

Un­like so many other per­pe­tra­tors of deadly mass shoot­ings before him, Pad­dock left be­hind no sui­cide note, no man­i­festo, no record­ings and no mes­sages on so­cial me­dia point­ing to his in­tent, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

McMahill said in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­mained cer­tain Pad­dock acted alone in the shoot­ing. But po­lice have said they sus­pect he had help before the killings, based on the large num­ber of guns, am­mu­ni­tion and ex­plo­sives found in the ho­tel suite, his home, his car and a sec­ond home searched in Reno.

REUTERS

An in­ter­nally dis­placed Syr­ian boy plays out­side a camp in the town of Sous­sian in Aleppo coun­try­side, Syria on Fri­day.

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