Bangladeshi police have detained dozens of Rohingya refugees, including women and children, who have fled Myanmar’s violence-ravaged Rakhine state.
Local police chief, Shyamol Kumar Nath, in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar said on Wednesday that security forces had detained 70 Rohingya Muslims and would send them back across the border.
“We nabbed them after they illegally trespassed (into Bangladesh). They will be pushed back (to Myanmar),” the police official said.
An estimated 500 Rohingya Muslims arrived in Bangladesh overnight, taking advantage of the darkness to evade detection. Over 2,000 have crossed the border in recent days, despite heavy security on both sides.
Bangladeshi border guards have intensified patrols since the violence flared in Myanmar’s Rakhine. They have stopped nearly a thousand Rohingya Muslims on the border over the past three days.
Rohingya community leaders say anyone sent back to Myanmar could face death.
“We have information the Myanmar army is killing those (Rohingya) people who are being pushed back from Bangladesh,” AFP quoted a leader as saying.
“The army has burned down their villages to ashes and killed their relatives. They will simply kill these innocents,” he added.
Some refugees who crossed into Bangladesh said their villages had been burned down and relatives killed by Myanmar’s army. One woman, who narrowly escaped, told how Myanmar’s soldiers had raped and killed her daughter.
The United Nations has urged Bangladesh to open its border to Rohingya refugees following the latest surge in violence in Myanmar. There are 32,000 legally registered Rohingya refugees already living in southeastern Bangladesh.
Rakhine has been under a military lockdown since last month, when an alleged attack on Myanmar’s border guards left nine officers dead. The government accused Rohingya Muslims of being behind the assault.
Since then, government forces have left dozens of the Rohingya dead during what they call search operations for the alleged attackers.