Myanmar's army kills 69 'attackers' in Rakhine state

Death toll spike comes as former UN chief Kofi Annan expresses "deep concern" over crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

    Myanmar's army kills 69 'attackers' in Rakhine state
    Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship and face persecution [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

    Nearly 70 "violent attackers" have been killed by Myanmar's security forces in northern Rakhine state over the past week, the army said, claiming the dead were members of an armed Rohingya group.

    Ten policemen and seven soldiers were also killed in clashes, the military added.

    Myanmar: Rakhine state still under military lockdown

    The announcement takes to 102 the tally of deaths of suspected Rohingya Muslim attackers since October 9, while the security forces' toll stands at 32, based on reports in state-owned media.

    A series of skirmishes and attacks over the past week led "to the death of 69 violent attackers and the arrest of 234", the military's True News Information Team said late on Monday.

    'Deep concern'

    The bloodshed is the most serious since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine in 2012.

    Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya are denied citizenship with many of the country's majority Buddhists regarding them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

    The death toll update came as former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, who chairs a commission on resolving Rakhine's problems, voiced concern at the upsurge in violence.

    "I wish to express my deep concern over the recent violence in northern Rakhine state, which is plunging the state into renewed instability and creating new displacement," said Annan in a statement.

    "All communities must renounce violence, and I urge the security services to act in full compliance with the rule of law," he said.

    Rohingya face severe restrictions on travel and access to healthcare [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

    US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said on Tuesday a US delegation holding previously scheduled talks in Myanmar urged the government to "improve transparency".

    The US also repeated its call for an independent investigation and humanitarian access.

    The violence has exposed tensions between Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi's seven-month-old civilian administration and the army, which ruled for decades and retains key powers, including control of ministries responsible for security.

    Members of an investigative commission, set up by Suu Kyi in August, are in Rakhine for consultations with community members this week.

    READ MORE: Who are the Rohingya?

    Soldiers have poured into the area along Myanmar's frontier with Bangladesh, responding to coordinated attacks on three border posts on October 9 that killed nine police officers.

    They have locked down the district, where the vast majority of residents are Rohingya Muslims, shutting out aid workers and independent observers, and conducting sweeps of villages.

    The Rohingya face severe restrictions on travel and access to healthcare. Many were dependent on regular nutritional and medical aid long before the outbreak of fighting in October.

    Security crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya community continues

    SOURCE: Reuters


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