Five Rohingya men have been arrested in connection with the killing of a prominent community leader in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, according to the police, adding that they were probing links to an armed group.
Mohibullah – a high-profile figurehead for the nearly one million-strong Muslim minority in Bangladesh – was killed by gunmen late on Wednesday in one of the sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar district.
More than 750,000 Rohingya, one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 following a brutal military offensive carried out by the Myanmar military. Thousands of Rohingya were killed and their properties and farms destroyed, with the United Nations calling for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges.
Mohibullah’s family blamed fighters from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group behind several attacks in Myanmar, with activists claiming they were enraged by his growing popularity in the camps.
“We have arrested five people over the murder of Mohibullah,” the commanding officer of the police unit in charge of camp security, Naimul Haque, told the AFP news agency.
Two of the men were remanded in custody for three days for questioning, authorities said. The other three have not yet appeared in court.
A 28-year-old Rohingya man was also arrested over the murder last week.
Investigated for links to ARSA
All six are being investigated for links to ARSA, which has instead blamed “unidentified criminals” for Mohibullah’s death.
A member of the rights group that Mohibullah headed up alleged that one of those arrested, 35-year-old Mohammad Elias, was a member of ARSA and had threatened the popular leader in June.
The member, who asked to remain anonymous as he feared for his safety, said at least 10 leaders of Mohibullah’s group were in hiding as they were afraid of more attacks.
And while authorities have stepped up security in the camps, Mohibullah’s family said they were afraid of even stepping outside their homes.
“We can’t get out of the house. They [ARSA] are threatening to kill us,” Mohibullah’s younger brother Habibullah told AFP.
“We received threats through audio messages in the past few days. I am now in a state of panic. We received the death threats for saying that ARSA members killed my brother.”
A spokesman for the Cox’s Bazar police, Rafiqul Islam, said they were ready to provide security to Mohibullah’s family if they made an appeal.
On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for a “prompt, thorough, and independent investigation” into the killing.