5 Rohingya die in clash with Myanmar army

YANGON • At least five ethnic Rohingya were killed, including a child, and several injured after troops clashed with insurgents in Myanmar's conflict-torn western state of Rakhine, a lawmaker and two residents said yesterday.

Saturday's fighting broke out after Arakan Army rebels attacked a military convoy passing the historic temple town of Mrauk U, the regional MP and a spokesman for the armed group said.

Two military spokesmen did not answer telephone calls from Reuters to seek comment, and the army did not immediately issue a statement on its website.

Arakan Army spokesman Khine Thu Kha blamed the government troops for the civilian casualties.

A government spokesman said he could not comment.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the details of the attack in the remote area, where journalists are barred and Internet access curtailed.

The Arakan Army spokesman said in a message that Myanmar army artillery shells hit the village of Bu Ta Lone, killing four people.

Mr Tun Thar Sein, the Mrauk U MP, said troops responded with gunfire and shelling in two villages on Saturday after rebels attacked their convoy. "In response to that, the military started firing at suspicious locations," he said.

He, along with a health worker who treated the injured and a villager, said at least five Rohingya - who are members of a persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar - had died. A 12-year-old boy was among them, the villager said.

Both the health worker and the villager asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

There were conflicting accounts of the number of Rohingya injured, which ranged from six to 11, along with several members of the state's Rakhine ethnic majority.

Rakhine is the state from which more than 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee for neighbouring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in 2017 that the United Nations has said was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies committing genocide.

The International Court of Justice at the Hague had in January ordered Myanmar to protect the Rohingya against further atrocities and preserve evidence of alleged crimes.

Several hundred thousand Rohingya remain in Myanmar, many confined to camps and villages where they are caught in the middle of fighting between the military and Arakan Army, which recruits from the mostly Buddhist majority in a drive for greater autonomy from the central government.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2020, with the headline 5 Rohingya die in clash with Myanmar army. Subscribe