March 22 2018

Death toll tops 100 in Myanmar's Rakhine as bloodshed continues

March 22 2018, 03:54 | Van Peters

Displaced Rakhine ethnic people from Maungdaw township arrive at the Sittwe port Sittwe Rakhine State western Myanmar on Saturday

Displaced Rakhine ethnic people from Maungdaw township arrive at the Sittwe port Sittwe Rakhine State western Myanmar on Saturday

Responding to gunfire around their villages, the refugees have tried to forge the River Naf, which separates Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Rohingya refugees walk pass Balukhali refugee camp near Myanmar's border.

But sporadic armed clashes have erupted since October when a previously unknown Rohingya militant group staged a series of attacks on security forces, sparking a massive crackdown by Myanmar's military which the United Nations believes may have amounted to ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar's de facto leader and Nobel peace laurate Aung San Suu Kyi strongly condemned Friday and Saturday's "brutal attacks by terrorists on security forces in Rakhine state" and ordered "clearance operations". Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi interlopers and Bangladesh says they're Burmese.

Rohingya are reviled and spurned as illegal immigrants in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they live in fear of police and troops.

They have spoken of their fear at being trapped in between security forces and the militants, who are accused of conducting a shadowy assassination campaign against perceived collaborators with the state.

Border Guard Bangladesh said 92 of Rohingyas were detained and sent back while crossing the border in these districts since Saturday night.

Some 3,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have entered Bangladesh in fresh exodus following renewed military activities in Rakhine state of the neighbouring country recently.

Bangladeshi border guards, however, are turning the Muslims back.

He also criticised Myanmar's Suu Kyi "for waging a very risky propaganda campaign" against humanitarian workers helping the Rohingya.

Not to mention the blood on our hands if we make no effort to stop the massacre of the Rohingya now.

There are about 600,000 Catholics in Myanmar, roughly 1 percent of the 58 million population, while Bangladesh's Catholic community numbers about 280,000, less than a quarter of one percent of a population estimated to be as much as 150 million.

About 2,000 people have been able to cross into Bangladesh, according to estimates by Rohingya refugees living in the makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

"We are accommodating new people in our current programme", said a senior official from the group Action Against Hunger who said the group was feeding about 500 new refugees.

"We, the undersigned Rohingya organizations and communities worldwide are deeply concerned with the recent developments following clashes in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar on August 25, 2017", the group said on Sunday. "Despite broken hearts for our fellow Rohingya, we can not let them stay here or else we might be driven back to (the) border".

Soldiers who have been fighting Islamist insurgents are said to have fired at civilians fleeing the violence.

"Extremists blew out improvised bombs, set fire to villages and attacked the police outposts in Maungtaw", the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar daily said on Monday, referring to a town.

While they may not see eye to eye on the Rohingya, the Vatican is keen to court Myanmar's government now that diplomatic ties are established.

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