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Fears Grow as Rumor of Attacks and Explosions Spreads in Maungdaw

RB News
June 25, 2018

Maungdaw -- Fears among Rohingya grow as sources within the Myanmar authorities and the Rakhine Buddhist community are circulating rumors that there will be attacks and explosions in (the downtown of) Maungdaw soon.

Suspicious activities and unusual patrollings by the Myanmar troops in Maungdaw are turning the rumors into beliefs, locals say.

"On June 22 evening, locals heard gun-shots from the BGP (Border Guard Police) camp at the Bridge between the downtown of Maungdaw and Myothu Gyi village. On June 24 early morning, the deputy commander and other 30 troops from Battalion 551 patrolled at 'Quarter 5' and the village of 'Myoma Kayintan'. Later, they replaced the BGP at the camp nearby the Bridge between 'Myoma Kayintan' and 'Pantaw Pyin' villages.

Furthermore, BGP personnel from camps in Maungdaw are being transferred and replaced by new ones. Some other BGP are being replaced by the military and the military are increasingly being deployed in the region.

Meanwhile, the locals of 'Sein Nyein Pyar' village in Buthidaung also said that they heard sounds of explosions and gunshots from the forests to its West. However, they were unable to further verify the details.

"We are hearing reports of possible attacks and explosions in the downtown of Maungdaw from the authorities and the Rakhines. They (the authorities) are saying that they have got all the information about what's likely going to happen. At the same time, we are seeing some strangers roaming here in Maungdaw.

"Security forces have also been heavily deployed in Maungdaw. Amidst all these, if any violence takes place, we should say it will happen only because the authorities are allowing it happen" said a human rights activist based in Maungdaw.

ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army), a Rohingya rebel group formed and appeared as a direct consequence of the State-led violence against Rohingya in 2012, launched attacks on several Myanmar police posts on August 25, 2017. Using that as pretext and under the banner of counter-insurgency operation, the Myanmar military launched a brutal campaign against the Rohingya population at large mass killing or summarily executing several thousands of civilians, burning down hundreds of villages and raping or gang-raping thousands of women and girls leading to a massive exodus of more 700,000 refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.

The situation in Maungdaw and Buthidaung has started calming down to a certain extent after two third of the Rohingya have been expelled to Bangladesh since last year. Now, reports of a possible violence is increasing panic among the Rohingyas in the region.

[Reported by MYARF; Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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