At least 4,000 non-Muslims have been evacuated amid ongoing clashes between government forces and Rohinya insurgents in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state while thousands of Rohinya Muslims have fled across the border into Bangladesh, according to The Irrawaddy Online on Sunday.
Death toll from the violence which erupted on Friday with coordinated attacks by the insurgents has risen to 98, including some 80 insurgents and 12 members of the security forces.
The attacks – the worst since last October – marked a dramatic escalation of conflict that has simmered in the region since last October, when a similar but smaller Rohingya attack prompted a brutal crackdown beset by allegations of serious human rights abuses.
State counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday condemned the raids in which insurgents wielding guns, sticks and homemade bombs assaulted 30 police stations and an army base.
Myanmar’s Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Settlement Win Myat Aye told Reuters that 4,000 ethnic villagers who had fled their villages had been evacuated.
Panic-stricken Rakhine residents in ethnically mixed or non-Muslim towns have readied knives and sticks to defend themselves. Many were stranded in their villages located in Muslim-majority area as clashes continued and some roads have been minded, residents claimed.
Around 2,000 Muslims have been able to cross into Bangladesh since Friday. Bangladesh foreign ministry said it was concerned that thousands of unarmed Myanmar nationals had assembled near the border to enter Bangladesh.