Myanmar’s military has killed at least 28 people during fresh fighting in troubled Rakhine State, according to official media Monday.
Since last month’s fatal attacks on police, dozens of people — including soldiers and suspected attackers (among them two women) — have been killed, or have died, in northern areas of the state predominantly occupied by Rohingya Muslims.
Aid delivery and access to information in the area near the Bangladesh border have been under a military lockdown since Oct. 9, with the ongoing military operation generating reports of widespread abuses against civilians.
The state-run Global News Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Monday that government troops and police were attacked Sunday by around 20 assailants armed with machetes and wooden clubs during an area clearance operation in Dargyizartaung village.
“The troops fired back [at] them and 19 aggressors [were] killed,” the report said.
It also said that another operation in the area resulted in six out of seven suspects being killed, while “troops also found the bodies of three attackers in the aftermath.”
According to the military, the fighting occurred after troops found 50 houses it said were “burnt by the armed attackers who had retreated on Saturday”.
Villages turned to ash
Many of the Rohingya living in Maungdaw and Yathay Taung townships — where the attacks on police outposts left nine officers dead — were relocated there following 2012 violence between the local Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine — one of the poorest regions in Myanmar.
A report by Al Jazeera shows satellite images that show several Rohingya village in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have been burned to the ground in recent weeks, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday.
“New satellite images not only confirm the widespread destruction of Rohingya villages but show that it was even greater than we first thought,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said in a statement.
According to HRW, the damage took place in the villages of Pyaung Pyit, Kyet Yoe Pyin, and Wa Peik.