At least five Rohingya Muslims, including a child, have been killed and several others injured during clashes in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, where state-sponsored violence has prevailed in recent years.
A regional lawmaker and residents said on Sunday that the five members of the persecuted Muslim minority were killed in Mrauk U town a day earlier. A 12-year-old boy was among them.
There were conflicting accounts of the number of Rohingya injured, which ranged from six to 11.
Media reports citing an unnamed Rohingya villager said that the deceased bodies had bullet wounds.
“Five Muslims died as their bodies were found,” Reuters quoted the villager as saying, adding, “Their funeral was held today.”
“We can’t go out and we can’t go anywhere,” he added. “We are just staying safe in our village. If this keeps happening, I feel like there is no hope.”
The regional MP, Tun Thar Sein, said that Saturday’s fighting broke out after Arakan Army — a predominantly Buddhist ethnic group — attacked a military convoy passing the area. Troops responded with gunfire and shelling two villages of the troubled region, the lawmaker added.
Myanmar military claimed that the forces from the ethnic militant group that recruits mostly from Rakhine’s Buddhist majority were responsible for the death.
Contradicting the military’s claim, Khine Thu Kha, a spokesman for the militants, who want more autonomy for Rakhine State blamed Myanmar’s government troops for the civilian casualties.
Saturday’s attack was one of several to kill Rohingya this year. In early January, four Rohingya children died in a blast the military and rebels blamed on each other.
On January 25, Myanmar troops shelled a Rohingya village, killing two women, one pregnant, and injuring seven people.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice earlier this year ordered Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims against further atrocities and preserve evidence of alleged crimes.
The region came to global attention in 2017 when more than 750,000 Rohingya, mostly women and children, fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown that UN investigators have said was carried out with “genocidal intent.” Bangladesh was already hosting some 200,000 Rohingya when the exodus began.
Hundreds remain in Myanmar and now live under apartheid-like conditions, confined to camps and villages and denied access to healthcare and education.
The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine State for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship too.
The United Nations has already described the Rohingya as the most persecuted community in the world.
Source: Press TV