Bodies wash up as boat carrying Rohingya fleeing Myanmar capsizes

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Bangladeshi border guards on Thursday recovered the bodies of 20 Rohingya women and children whose boat capsized as they fled violence in Myanmar, an official said, amid pressure on Dhaka to shelter thousands marooned in no man’s land at the border.

Around 27,400 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since Friday, three U.N. sources said, after Rohingya insurgents wielding sticks, knives and crude bombs attacked police posts and an army base in Rakhine state, leading to clashes that have killed at least 117 people.

The violence comes amid reports of Buddhist vigilantes burning Rohingya villages. Reuters reporters on Thursday saw a huge fire across the Naf River on the Myanmar side of the border.

The sources said around 20,000 Rohingya were still stranded in no man’s land between the two countries, with one predicting the figure could jump to 30,000 later on Thursday as people flee the worst violence involving Myanmar’s Muslim minority in at least five years.

Myanmar has evacuated thousands of Buddhists from Rakhine following the fighting that has mainly killed Rohingya insurgents but also security officials, according to the Myanmar government.

The treatment of about 1.1 million Rohingya in Myanmar is the biggest challenge facing national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused by Western critics of not speaking out for a minority that has long complained of persecution.

On Thursday, the bodies of 11 Rohingya children and nine women washed up on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River as their boat overturned, said Ariful Islam, a commander with Bangladesh’s border guards.

The bodies of two Rohingya women and two children were recovered on Wednesday after their boat was fired on by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police, Islam said.

In the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar, makeshift camps for the displaced set up since similar violence last October were being expanded.

One of those arrivals, Mohammed Rashid, 45, wore a surgical dressing under his eye, which he said was the result of bullet splinters hitting him after the Myanmar army opened fire on a group of Rohingya.

He said about 100 people made their way to the border together, and that he saw explosions and people dying.

“We hid in the forest for two days and then we were stopped at the border, but we got through. We heard that the houses in our village have burned down,” Rashid told Reuters at the camp.

“BURNING, BURNING”

Chris Lewa, of…

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