400 people die as Myanmar cracks down on Rohingya


About 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims live in Myanmar's Rakhine state, but they are denied citizenship and are seen by many officials there as "illegal immigrants".

Either way, it is the bloodiest chapter yet in a bitter five-year crisis that has torn apart Rakhine state along ethnic and religious lines, displaced the Rohingya in huge numbers and heaped global condemnation on Myanmar s army and the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

ARSA says it is fighting to protect the Rohingya from abuses by Myanmar security forces and the majority-Buddhist Rakhine community who they accuse of trying to push them out.

Niranjan Rudro from Chikonchhari of Maungdaw, too, said some people in black clothes besieged the villages and set fire to the Hindu houses.

"The US supports democracy for the Myanmarese people, and we condemn attacks by militant groups in Rakhine State", US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement yesterday.

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The most recent exodus to Bangladesh follows an upsurge in violence in Rakhine.

Photographs from the scene showed the bodies of several small children lined up on the ground, covered with sheets. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are believed to be stuck at the border to Bangladesh.

On Thursday, a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) commander told AFP that 71 newly arrived Rohingya had been arrested for entering the country illegally and told to go back, though not forced to return.

But testimonies gathered by AFP from the displaced reaching Bangladesh suggest some Rohingya men are heeding a call-to-arms by the militants.

Numerous new arrivals were women and children, including heavily pregnant women, she said.

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On August 25, the rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police and military checkpoints in Rakhine which left more than 100 dead, mostly rebels.

Aid workers giving emergency shelter and food in Bangladesh said the refugees were in a "very desperate condition".

The group is steered by Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia, and commanded in the field by experienced guerilla fighters, a report by the International Crisis Group states. Myanmar security forces have launched "clearance" operations to sweep out insurgents whose ranks appear to be swelling as male Rohingya villagers pick up sticks and knives and join their cause. A round of communal violence in various parts of the country in 2012 cemented widespread anti-Muslim feeling, which was in part stoked by a coterie of ultra-nationalist monks.

Rohingya people find refuge at a camp near the town of Ukhia in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, August 29, 2017. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people have been slain during the crackdown.

During a visit to Hoyaikong Kanjarpara around 11:00am yesterday, these correspondents found some 800 Rohingya men, women and children gathered by BGB.

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The foreign ministry said while Bangladesh has been cooperating with Myanmar in the security sector, such instances of "violation of sovereignty may affect the existing understanding and cooperation between the two countries".