Reports of Rohingyas at Bangladesh border 'false'

YANGON • Myanmar's state media has denied Bangladesh border guards' accounts of Rohingya Muslims fleeing conflict at home by trying to cross into the northern neighbour.

A commanding officer of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said on Friday his staff provided food and medicine to 82 people, including women and children, attempting to leave Myanmar, but turned them back from the frontier. Two boats with 86 people were pushed back last Tuesday.

State-run English newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar said yesterday a newly created information task force had found the reports to be untrue.

"An inquiry into news reports by Reuters that nearly 200 people fleeing Myanmar had been arrested and repulsed yesterday by Bangladesh border guards has been found to be false," said the newspaper, quoting BGB officials.

Soldiers have flooded the north of Rakhine state, along Myanmar's frontier with Bangladesh, responding to attacks by alleged Muslim militants on border posts on Oct 9.

Sixty-nine suspected insurgents and 17 members of the security forces have been killed since the violence began, according to official reports. Earlier this month, Myanmar denied accusations by the Rohingya that its military had killed people fleeing the conflict, which has displaced up to 30,000 people.

Rohingya residents have told Reuters that hundreds have tried to flee to Bangladesh after fighting intensified a week ago. The United Nations refugee agency has said the border should be kept open for people fleeing violence.

The Global New Light of Myanmar said the government planned to create an investigation commission to look into the "violent attacks in Maungdaw", the region in Rakhine at the centre of the unrest.

The report did not specify whether the probe would include an investigation of allegations of human rights abuses that the UN, the United States and Britain have called for.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Reports of Rohingyas at Bangladesh border 'false''. Print Edition | Subscribe