Myanmar violence drives Rohingya Muslims to cross into Bangladesh
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have gathered on Myanmar's border to cross into Bangladesh after ethnic violence killed nearly 90 people in the country's restive state of Rakhine, officials said on Saturday.
The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry in a statement urged the Myanmar government to ensure protection of the members of the minority group fleeing violence at their homes. More than 1 million Rohingya live in Rakhine state and have been subjected to decades of persecution, including restrictions on freedom of movement.
"Thousands of unarmed civilian including women, children and elderly people from the Rakhine State have assembled close to the border and making attempts to enter Bangladesh," the statement said.
Bangladeshi troopers, who were put on alert, have thwarted an attempt by 76 Rohingya Muslims to cross the river Naf that separated Bangladesh from Myanmar, said Lieutenant Colonel Manjurul Ahsan Khan, a Bangladeshi border officer. Khan told local media that Myanmar police fired their guns on Rohingya Muslims who fled the violence and gathered along the river.
The group of Rohingya left their homes in Rakhine after Myanmar troopers launched an offensive on Friday against suspected Rohingya insurgents, leaving 12 security officers and 77 Rohingya dead.
Abdur Rahim, a Rohingya refugee living in an unregistered camp in Kutupalong of southern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar, said at least 7,000 people who were driven away from their homes have reached the border. They have been living in the open on the bank of the Naf river, he said.
Some who managed to cross into Bangladesh said the Burmese military torched numerous homes and forced the residents to cross the river, Rahim told journalists by phone from the camp. (dpa)
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