Attack of Muslim rohingyas rebels in Burma: 89 dead
A street in Maungdaw, Rakhine State, where residents were asked by the authorities to stay at home on 25 August 2017
At least 89 people including 12 members of the security forces died Friday in western Burma after attacks by Muslim rohingyas against several border posts, violence unprecedented for months, according to the Burmese authorities.
A previous report released by the Nobel Peace Prize winning government Aung San Suu Kyi reported 12 members of the security forces and 59 “terrorists” Rohingyas killed. The number of rebels killed has now risen to 77.
“Military and police are fighting together against Bengali terrorists,” Army chief General Aung Hlaing said on his Facebook page earlier.
The Rohingyas are considered immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and are referred to as “bengalis”, the term “rohingya” being taboo in Burma, a Buddhist majority country marked by the influence of radical monks who denounce Muslims as a threat.
It is the most deadly episode of violence in the region, the Rakhine State, which has been marked by strong tensions between Muslims and Buddhists.
There are tens of thousands of Rohingyas, a Muslim minority suffering severe discrimination in Burma, without access to hospitals, schools or the labor market.
More than 20 police stations were attacked by some 150 rohingyas rebels early Friday, the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi announced before the army.
– The fighting continues –
The Burmese army chief stressed that “fighting continued” on Friday in the border region of Bangladesh, especially around the police stations in the villages of Kyar Gaung Taung and Nat Chaung.
Weapons were stolen in several police stations by the attackers, equipped with daggers and other blunt objects, he said.
The procedure resembles that of a previous series of deadly attacks against border posts in October 2016.
Several police stations attacked on Friday at the border with Bangladesh remained surrounded on Friday, police sources told AFP.
“The situation is complicated … The soldiers arrive” in reinforcement, a police officer of Buthidaung testified Friday morning, not far from the area most affected.
The Burmese government on Friday said “the coincidence of these attacks with the publication of the final report of the commission” headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the situation in the Rakhine State.
The commission called on Burma Thursday to give more rights to its Muslim minority of the Rohingyas, especially of movement, failing which it risked “radicalization”.
Kofi Annan reacted to Friday’s attacks, “worrying escalation in violence”. He called on the security forces to “restrain” their handling of the crisis.
The last major deadly attacks on police stations in the autumn of 2016 were followed by a hardening of the army’s actions in the region, with village fires and massive Rohingyas flight to neighboring Bangladesh. They had given accounts of atrocities committed by the army.
Amnesty International was concerned about the possible consequences of the attacks on Friday, including the response of the security forces.
“This should not lead to the repetition of the army’s cruel retaliation for a similar attack last year when the security forces tortured, killed and raped Rohingyas and burned entire villages,” said Josef Benedict, Deputy director of Amnesty International’s regional office.
The nebula of the rohingyas groups involved in the violence is not very clear. A group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), is carrying out the insurrection from the mountains of the May Yu area in northern Rakhine State.
The situation is particularly difficult for the 120,000 Muslims living in displaced persons’ camps in Rakhine State, from where they can only emerge by dropper, on pass.