Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh as fresh violence erupts in Myanmar

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - About 1,000 persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's western Rakhine state have fleed to neighboring Bangladesh after coming under fire from military soldiers.

Jahangir Aziz, a Bangladeshi local government representative, said that when Myanmar troops fired their guns, the crowd ran back and broke through a Bangladesh barricade and cordon of 300-400 guards.

They then scattered, with at least some making it to unofficial camps for unregistered refugees, the official added.

The Muslims, who were seeking refuge from the ongoing violence in Myanmar, had been in a border no man's land for two days.

Bangladeshi border guards sought to push them back to Myanmar.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned by reports that civilians have been killed in Rakhine state and appealed for neighboring Bangladesh to allow fleeing Rohingya to seek safety, his spokesman said on Monday.

“Many of those fleeing are women and children, some of whom are wounded,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“(The Secretary-General) calls for humanitarian agencies to be granted unfettered and free access to affected communities in need of assistance and protection. The United Nations stands ready to provide all necessary support to both Myanmar and Bangladesh in that regard,” Dujarric said.

Rohingya leaders say 8,000 to 9,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh since a fresh wave of violence broke out in Rakhine last Thursday.

At least 104 people have been killed in the fresh bout of violence. The official death toll as of Sunday was 96.  

Video clips circulating on social media showed that there was widespread burning of buildings and even whole neighborhoods in Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine on Sunday.

Arakan Times, an online news website serving the Rohingya community, said Myanmar border guard police and soldiers burned down 1,000 homes in actions beginning Saturday and continuing Monday.

A group of journalists who tried to drive to Maungdaw on Monday were turned back by police and soldiers.

Myanmar’s government brands the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population in the country as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims, however, have had roots in the country that go back centuries. They are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”

The government used a militant attack on border guards back in October 2016 as a pretext to enforce the blockade on Rakhine.

There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of summary executions, rapes, and arson attacks by the military since the crackdown began.

Some 87,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since last year amid the crackdown.


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