At least 6,000 Rohingya civilians fleeing renewed violence in Myanmar are stranded near the border with Bangladesh which is blocking their entry, a senior Bangladeshi official said Tuesday, as the United Nations urged Dhaka to let them in.
Alarmed at renewed fighting and incitement in the wake of the attacks on Myanmar security forces in northern areas of Rakhine state, the top United Nations human rights official today urged all sides to renounce the use of violence and called on State authorities to ensure they abide by their obligations under global human rights law.
Militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which the government has declared a terrorist group, attacked the outposts and an army base over the weekend in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships, prompting further clashes that have killed more than 100 people, including insurgents, law enforcement officials, civilians, and a government employee.
As hundreds of Rohingyas continue to enter Bangladesh through different unguarded border points of Ukhia, Teknaf and Naikhyangchhari in last two days, Border Guard Bangladesh today detained 171 Rohingya refugees and sent them back.
Later, media reports emerged saying Myanmar security forces used disproportionate force and displaced thousands of Rohingya villagers, destroying homes with mortars and machine guns.
The government said it was investigating whether members of worldwide aid groups had been involved in an alleged siege by the insurgents of a village in Rakhine.
This is the worst outbreak of violence in Rakhine state since October, when Rohingya fighters killed nine police officers, triggering a mass exodus.
Pope Francis plans to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh in late November and early December, two countries caught up in a crisis over the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Largely Muslim, 1.1 million live in Myanmar and claim their roots there go back centuries.
An army source in Rakhine told Reuters that troops were hunting down insurgents across the region, clearing landmines and evacuating non-Muslims and government staff.
Although the cause of fire has not been ascertained yet, NY based Human Rights Watch are adamant that satellite images emerging in the aftermath clearly show burning in at least ten different areas in Northern Rakhine State.
Myanmar's military responded with a massive security crackdown. "We can not distinguish who are insurgents or who are villagers".
Around 2,000 people have been able to cross into Bangladesh since Friday, according to estimates by Rohingya refugees living in the makeshift camps in Bangladesh.
The UN believes the army's response may amount to ethnic cleansing, allegations denied by the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the army.