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69 ‘attackers’ killed, 585 arrested in Myanmar operations

  • Published at 09:23 am February 20th, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:03 am February 22nd, 2017
69 ‘attackers’ killed, 585 arrested in Myanmar operations
Myanmar government claims to have arrested 585 people, apparently Rohingya Muslims, in connection with the attacks and clashes in Rakhine State in four months since October 9. At least 69 people who allegedly participated in the attacks were killed by the security forces during the army’s “clearing operations.” On the other hand, 10 policemen, seven soldiers and 13 civilians were also killed in the series of attacks and clashes perpetrated from October 9 to February 9, according to the Myanmar State Counsellor’s office, reports Xinhua. Of the arrested attackers, 39 are facing trials for “killing people, destroying public property and communicating with illegal organisations.”
Also Read- Hundreds of Rohingyas return ‘home’
One of them was sentenced to death on February 10 for his involvement in “intentional murder.” Convict Mamahdnu Aka Aula is one of the 14 “attackers” detained in Sittwe township for planning and participating in the attack on Kotankauk border post on October 9. The sentencing came days after a blistering report from the United Nations accused Myanmar’s troops and police of carrying out a campaign of rape, torture and mass killings of Rohingyas.

Efforts towards normalcy

After the October 9 attacks, the armed group later carried out 11 more attacks on the security forces and clashed with them at least a dozen times.
Also Read- Wider support for Rohingya terrorists hints at further attacks
On February 15, Myanmar ceased the four-month-long military operations. The army says it is currently cooperating with the police to maintain stability and rule of law in the area. During the crackdown that killed over 1,000 Rohingya Muslims, many women were raped, thousands detained and their houses burnt. At least 70,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh and taken shelter in Teknaf and nearby areas, according to the UN. The Myanmar border authorities opened its gate No 1 on February 16, but the Bangladesh authorities, who closed the border after the October 9 attacks, is yet to take a decision on the matter.
Also Read- Myanmar opens border gate
The influx of Rohingyas apparently stopped around two weeks ago, and AFP on Monday reported that nearly 1,000 Rohingyas – mostly young men – had returned to their home villages recently to collect the elderly family members left behind earlier. On February 17, only two days after the military operation was suspended, a group of around 30 armed Rohingyas launched an attack on security forces in Buthidaung township on the Bangladesh border injuring two soldiers. Around 33,000 Rohingyas live in two registered refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar while over 300,000 others have already lived in Bangladesh for decades.
Also Read- PM seeks global support for relocating Rohingya refugees
The government of Sheikh Hasina has sought international support to temporarily shift the undocumented Rohingyas to a remote island in Hatia before they are sent to their own country in phases. But the move has drawn severe criticism since Thengar Char is an “uninhabited and undeveloped” coastal island.

Further attacks feared

Saudi-funded armed Rohingya group Harakah al-Yakin (HaY) took credit for the October 9 attacks when they looted “48 weapons of various types and 6,624 rounds of assorted ammunition, 47 bayonets, and 164 magazines” from three border outposts, as claimed by the government. The Myanmar president’s office, however, blames RSO-linked terrorist group Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) for the coordinated attacks, saying that led by seven top leaders, some 400 trained members of the group participated in the attacks with a view to capturing the northern part of the Rakhine State.
Also Raed- Rohingyas write open letter to prime minister
The connection between HaY and AMM – both associated with al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba – could not be confirmed. HaY chief Ata Ullah was mentioned by the Myanmar government as a third-tier leader of the AMM group, which is led by Havistoohar, a Rohingya cleric from Maungdaw who was trained by Taliban in Pakistan. All the militant leaders have gone into hiding. After the October 9 attacks, the HaY has gained much support from the regional and Middle East-based Islamist militant outfits who urged youths to join the armed jihad against the Myanmar government to avenge the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims. A top HaY leader told the Dhaka Tribune last month that they had to retreat for now in the face of military operations – both ground and aerial – and for losing support of the common Rohingya Muslims.
Also Read- Myanmar soldiers injured in clash with militants in Rakhine
The government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine, including mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims, and said the operation was a lawful counter-insurgency campaign. A commission has been formed to look into the allegations of excesses by the military and the police. The 1.1 million Rohingyas are loathed by many from the Buddhist majority, who insist they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have lived in the country for generations.
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