Nearly 400 die as Myanmar steps up crackdown on Rohingya Muslims
COX‘S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Nearly 400 people have died in a crackdown continuing for a week, new official data show, making it probably the deadliest violence to engulf the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in decades.
Around 38,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar, United Nations sources said, a week after police posts and an army base were attacked in Rakhine state.
“As of August 31, 38,000 people are estimated to have crossed the border into Bangladesh,” the officials said on Friday, in their latest estimate.
But Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say a campaign of arson and killings aims to force them out.
The clashes and ensuing army crackdown have killed about 370 Rohingya Muslims, but also 13 security forces, two government officials and 14 civilians, the Myanmar military said on Thursday.
By comparison, violence in 2012 in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, led to the killing of nearly hundreds and the displacement of about 140,000, most of them Rohingya.
Myanmar evacuated more than 11,700 “ethnic residents” from the area affected by violence, the army said, referring to the non-Muslim population of northern Rakhine.
About 20,000 more Rohingya trying to flee are stuck in no man’s land at the border, the UN sources said, as aid workers in Bangladesh struggle to alleviate the sufferings of a sudden influx of thousands of hungry and traumatized people.
While some Rohingya try to cross by land, others attempt a perilous boat journey across the Naf River separating the two countries.
Bangladesh border guards found the bodies of 15 Rohingya Muslims, 11 children among them, floating in the river on Friday, area commander Lt Col Ariful Islam told Reuters.
That takes to about 40 the total of Rohingya known to have died by drowning.