Two Rohingya were gunned down inside their camp in Cox’s Bazar on Thursday, in the third such killing in the past two days by suspected supporters of the ARSA militant group, according to Rohingya community leaders.
As many as 40 Rohingya have been slain since the start of 2022 by armed groups in the sprawling camps near Bangladesh’s southeastern border with Myanmar, police records show.
Armed men entered Camp 17 in Ukhia early Thursday and shot dead Md. Yasin, 30, and Ayatullah, 40, said Additional Deputy Inspector General Syed Harunur Rashid, the captain of the Armed Police Battalion in Cox’s Bazar.
The brothers of both the slain men also confirmed the killings.
Yasin was killed because he had provided information to the police about men who had cut off his hand and a foot two months ago, said one of his brothers, Md. Hosson.
“For this, they targeted and killed my brother Yasin,” Hosson told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
“They tried to catch me, but I fled.”
Hosson did not give details about the incident two months ago.
Ayatullah was sleeping when men in ski masks came into his room and shot him, said his brother, Salamatullah.
Md. Faruk Ahmed, an assistant superintendent at the Cox’s Bazar police battalion, which oversees security at the camps, said Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants were behind most of these killings.
“The ARSA terrorists are mainly responsible for the murders at the camps,” he told BenarNews.
“We have been trying to eliminate them.”
According to the police, at least nine Rohingya, including a child and two camp leaders, were killed by ARSA in October.
ARSA, formerly known as Al-Yaaqin, is the Rohingya insurgent group that launched coordinated deadly attacks on Burmese government military and police outposts in Rakhine in August 2017. The raids provoked a brutal Burmese military crackdown that forced close to three-quarters of a million people to seek shelter in Bangladesh.
For years since the 2017 exodus into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladeshi government officials denied that ARSA had a foothold or presence in the sprawling camps, which house about 1 million refugees.
The killings have terrified the Rohingya refugees.
“We are not sure who would be the next target. We are in constant fear,” Master Shafiullah, a leader of the Balukhali Camp 9, told BenarNews.
Others living in the area are also running scared.
“Target killings are taking place inside the camps. We the local people have been terrified and helpless,” Ayachhur Rahman, a civil society group promoting the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, told BenarNews.
“Those involved in vigilance of camps at night and those providing the police with information about the terrorists are the victims of target killings,” he said, urging the government to take tougher action against such elements.
Night-time guards were introduced at the camps in October following the September 2021 killing of Rohingya leader Muhib Ullah, who had drawn international attention to the refugees’ plight and visited the White House in Washington.
In a report issued in June, Bangladesh police alleged that ARSA leader Ataullah Abu Ahmmar Jununi had ordered Muhib Ullah assassinated because he was popular.
Meanwhile, the chairman of a parliamentary watchdog on foreign affairs alleged on Thursday that ARSA was working hand-in-glove with the Myanmar army.
“[A]RSA has been working in favor of the Myanmar army,” Faruk Khan told BenarNews, after a briefing by foreign ministry officials on the progress of Rohingya repatriation and the law and order situation at the camps.
“They have been working against the repatriation of the Rohingya in Rakhine state. They are killing the pro-repatriation people,” Khan said.
However, he did not elaborate on what he meant by the allegation and he did not provide evidence when BenarNews asked him about this.
“The Rohingya people have been getting involved in criminal activities as they have been frustrated over their future. Their repatriation is the only sustainable solution,” Khan further said.
“The foreign ministry officials have told us that the Myanmar government now wants to take the Rohingya back. China has [also] been helping us in this regard.”
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