YANGON: Myanmar security forces fired warning shots during a day-long sweep of a Rohingya village to arrest alleged militants, Aung San Suu Kyi’s office said late Friday, as violence again tremored through Rakhine State.
The northwestern area has been beset by unrest since late last year when Rohingya militants attacked police posts, prompting a months-long bloody military crackdown that the UN believes may amount to ethnic cleansing.
The major part of the military crackdown on the militants ended several months ago.
But the area remains locked down, with sporadic killings by troops and almost daily reports in state media of villagers being murdered and abducted by masked assassins.
Border police began an operation on Friday morning in Out Nan Yar village arresting “six criminals” accused of supporting the militants, according to a statement from the office of State Counsellor Suu Kyi.
Around two dozen officers were surrounded by a hundreds-strong “mob” of villagers armed with rudimentary weapons.
Four of the suspects were freed in the ensuing chaos.
“Police had to fire around 40-50 warning shots as the mob attacked with sling shots, sticks and knives,” the statement said, adding military columns were moving into the village as night fell.
Violence in the hard to access wedge of Rakhine closest to Bangladesh has seen tens of thousands of Rohingya flee across the border.
Myanmar’s government has denied accusations that its security forces killed and raped Rohingya villagers during its “clearance operations”.
But it has also steadfastly refused to allow in a UN fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of widespread abuse collected from survivors who fled the area.