Myanmar: 4 soldiers killed as tensions rise in Rakhine

Deaths of soldiers brings number of people killed since weekend attacks on police station outposts in Rakhine State to 29

Myanmar: 4 soldiers killed as tensions rise in Rakhine

World Bulletin / News Desk

Four more people have been killed in Rakhine State after armed men attacked government troops during a clearance operation, official media claimed Wednesday.

The deaths of the four soldiers would bring the number of people killed since deadly weekend attacks on police station outposts in Myanmar's west to 29.

On Tuesday, the army-run Myawaddy newspaper claimed that the soldiers were attacked by about 300 armed men while they conducted an area clearance campaign near Pyaungpit village in Maungdaw township.

 Maungdaw and Yathay Taung townships are two areas predominantly occupied by the country's stateless Rohingya Muslim population.

“Four soldiers were killed in the fighting,” it said, adding that the body of one attacker and two guns were found afterwards.

 The group the men belong to is yet to be officially identified, although police have said that two captured during the station raids are not from Myanmar, but claim the attack was carried out with the help of locals to avenge the demolition of religious buildings.

 The office of Myanmar's President has said that troops also seized two suspected armed attackers Tuesday upon receiving information that they were hiding in villages in Maungtaw.

In the wake of the initial attacks on the Maungdaw and Yathay Taung outposts -- both close to the Bangladesh border -- early Sunday, nine police officers, four soldiers and 16 men have died.

On Tuesday, a senior police officer in state capital Sittwe underlined to Anadolu Agency by phone that the two men captured during the initial attacks were not from the area. 

“They are neither Myanmar nationals nor local Bengalis,” said the man, using a word to describe Rohingya that suggests they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

He declined to comment, however, if they were Bangladesh citizens.  

“It’s not the right time to disclose the country and organization they belong to,” said the officer, who asked not to be named as he did not have the authority to speak to media.

“They [the men] said local Bengalis helped them as they are angry over government plans to demolish mosques in the areas.”

Last month, Rakhine regional government pledged to tear down more than 3,000 religious structures, including 12 mosques and 35 madrasas (religious schools) built without permission in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

Later Tuesday, the central government asked Bangladesh for help with the investigation.

Since the attacks began, an overnight curfew (7 p.m. - 6 a.m.) has been imposed, around 400 government schools temporarily closed, and all border trade gates and crossings with neighboring Bangladesh shuttered.

Maungdaw and Yathay Taungare are still governed by a partial curfew (11 p.m. - 4 a.m.) placed since communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya broke out in mid-2012 in which around 100 people are reported to have died.

Rohingya advocacy groups have also voiced concern at what they claim is a violent crackdown on the Muslim minority group.

"Mass arrests are taking place," a statement released late Monday headlined Stop Killing Innocent Rohingya in Arakan (the British colonial name for Rakhine) said.

It claimed that following the attacks more than 10 "innocent" Rohingya were killed by Myanmar military forces and police and many Rohingya women had also been arrested.

Since mid-2012, Rakhine, one of the poorest regions in Myanmar, has been subject to incidents of communal violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya that have left nearly 100 dead and some 100,000 people displaced in camps.

On Oct. 3, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi called on Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states for support in solving the “complex situation” in Rakhine, home to around 1.2 million Rohingya.

Since her party's victory in the Nov. 8 election, Suu Kyi has been placed under tremendous international pressure to solve problems faced by Rohingya but has had to play a careful balancing act for fear of upsetting the country's nationalists, many of whom have accused Muslims of trying to eradicate the country's Buddhist traditions.

Suu Kyi has, however, enforced the notion that the root of many of the impoverished region's problems are economic, and is encouraging investment in the area, which in turn the National League for Democracy hopes will lead to reconciliation between the Buddhist and Muslim communities

 

Last Mod: 12 Ekim 2016, 10:29
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