US urges Myan­mar to avoid reprisals af­ter at­tacks kills 71

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OBITUARIES - By Es­ther Htu­san The As­so­ci­ated Press

YANGON, Myan­mar — An at­tack by eth­nic Ro­hingya mil­i­tants in western Myan­mar left 12 se­cu­rity per­son­nel and 59 Ro­hingya Mus­lims dead in a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion of com­mu­nal vi­o­lence that has plagued the re­gion, as the United States urged author­i­ties to avoid a re­sponse that would in­flame the ten­sions.

The of­fice of the coun­try’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said Fri­day that mil­i­tary and bor­der po­lice re­sponded to the at­tacks by launch­ing “clear­ance oper­a­tions.”

Po­lice fought off groups of as many as 100 Ro­hingya at­tack­ers armed with guns, ma­chetes and home­made grenades. The cap­tured weapons were shown in pho­tos posted on­line by the govern­ment.

A wit­ness in Maung­daw town­ship in Rakhine state, con­tacted by phone, said sol­diers en­tered her vil­lage at about 10 a.m. Fri­day, burned homes and prop­erty, and shot dead at least 10 peo­ple.

The wit­ness, who asked to be iden­ti­fied by her nick­name, Em­mar, be­cause of fear of ret­ri­bu­tion, said vil­lagers fled in many di­rec­tions but mostly to a nearby moun­tain range. She said gun­shots and ex­plo­sions could be heard and smoke could still be seen Fri­day evening.

A mil­i­tant group, the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army, or ARSA, took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Thurs­day night at­tacks on more than 25 lo­ca­tions, say­ing they were in de­fense of Ro­hingya com­mu­ni­ties that had been bru­tal­ized by govern­ment forces. It is­sued its state­ment on Twitter on an ac­count deemed le­git­i­mate by ad­vo­cates of Ro­hingya rights.

Suu Kyi called the at­tacks “a cal­cu­lated at­tempt to un­der­mine the ef­forts of those seek­ing to build peace and har­mony in Rakhine state.”

State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said in Wash­ing­ton that as se­cu­rity forces act to pre­vent fur­ther vi­o­lence and bring the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice, they should re­spect the rule of law and pro­tect hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms.

She said the at­tacks un­der­scored the im­por­tance of the govern­ment im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions of a com­mis­sion chaired by former U.N. chief Kofi An­nan, which pub­lished its fi­nal re­port on Thurs­day rec­om­mend­ing that the govern­ment act quickly to im­prove eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and so­cial jus­tice in Rakhine state to re­solve vi­o­lence be­tween Bud­dhists and the Ro­hingya.

Suu Kyi’s of­fice said on its Face­book page that the at­tacks were in­tended to co­in­cide with the re­lease of An­nan’s re­port.

The clashes were dead­lier than an at­tack by the mil­i­tants on three bor­der posts last Oc­to­ber that killed nine po­lice­men and set off months of bru­tal coun­terin­sur­gency oper­a­tions by Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces against Ro­hingya com­mu­ni­ties in Rakhine state. Hu­man rights groups ac­cused the army of car­ry­ing out mas­sive hu­man rights abuses in­clud­ing killing, rape and burn­ing down more than 1,000 homes and other build­ings.

The army’s abuses fueled fur­ther re­sent­ment to­ward the govern­ment among the Mus­lim Ro­hingya, most of whom are con­sid­ered by Myan­mar’s Bud­dhist ma­jor­ity to be il­le­gal im­mi­grants from neigh­bor­ing Bangladesh and are de­nied cit­i­zen­ship and its rights. ARSA took ad­van­tage of the re­sent­ment by step­ping up re­cruit­ment of mem­bers.

[DVB VIA THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

In this im­age made from video, a man ly­ing on a bed with a ban­daged hand is cared for in a hospi­tal Fri­day in Buthi­daung town­ship, Myan­mar.

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