Sunday , December 16 2018

Nearly 90K Rohingya flee violence – ‘Explosions’ amid exodus

Rohingya refugees from Rakhine state in Myanmar walk along a path near Teknaf in Bangladesh on Sept 3. Around 400 people – most of them Rohingya Muslims – have died in communal violence searing through Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the army chief’s office said Sept 1, with tens of thousands forced to flee across the border into Bangladesh. (AFP)

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh/ YANGON, Sept 4, (Agencies): Two blasts rocked a Myanmar area near the Bangladeshi border on Monday, accompanied by the sound of gunfire and thick black smoke, as violence that has sent nearly 90,000 Muslim Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh showed no sign of easing. Bangladeshi border guards said a woman lost a leg from a blast about 50 metres inside Myanmar and was carried into Bangladesh to get treatment. Reuters reporters heard explosions and saw a black smoke rising near a Myanmar village.

The latest violence in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state began on Aug 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base. The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed at least 400 people and triggered the exodus of villagers to Bangladesh. The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecution.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from countries with large Muslim populations such as Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan to protect Rohingya civilians. Myanmar says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against “terrorists” responsible for a string of attacks on police posts and the army since last October.

On Monday, Reuters reporters saw fires and heard gunshots before the explosions near the Myanmar village of Taung Pyo Let Way. Bangladeshi border guards believe the injured woman stepped on an anti-personnel mine, although that was not confirmed. A Myanmar military source said security forces still had difficulty penetrating the remote northern part of Maungdaw region — close to the Bangladeshi border. Meanwhile, a senior leader of al- Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has called for attacks on Myanmar authorities in support of minority Rohingya Muslims, the SITE monitoring centre said on Saturday as thousands fled what they say is a government assault on their villages. In a video message released by al- Qaeda’s al-Malahem media foundation, Khaled Batarficalled on Muslims in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia to support their Rohingya Muslim brethren against the “enemies of Allah.” Batarfi, who was freed from a Yemeni prison in 2015 when al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized the port city of Mukalla, also urged al-Qaeda’s Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch to carry out attacks. “So spare no effort in waging jihad against them and repulsing their attacks, and beware of letting down our brothers in Burma (Myanmar),” Batarfisaid, according to the US-based monitoring centre.

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