Bangladesh police: Suspected Rohingya rebels kill another refugee camp watchman

Residents of Cox’s Bazar camps say ARSA rebels are behind a spate of such killings.
By Abdur Rahman and Ahammad Foyez for BenarNews
Bangladesh police: Suspected Rohingya rebels kill another refugee camp watchman A Rohingya refugee walks at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019.

A Rohingya volunteer watchman was killed at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar allegedly by Rohingya insurgents, making him the fifth victim of such an attack by armed rebels, Bangladeshi police said Wednesday.

While police wouldn’t say whether the suspected assailants belonged to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgent group, residents of the sprawling camps near the Myanmar border insist that it was behind these attacks on the volunteer Rohingya security guards.

A group of 20-25 armed men attacked volunteer security watchmen early Wednesday morning at the Balukhali camp in the Ukhia sub-district, said Md. Faruk Ahmed, assistant superintendent of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn-8), who identified the dead victim as 35-year-old Mohammad Jafor.

“The armed group attacked Jafor around 3:30 a.m. and stabbed him with a sharp weapon,” the police officer said, adding that Jafor was later hacked with machetes.

“The rebel Rohingya groups are facing obstacles to committing any offence inside the camps due to the volunteer guards. That’s why they are now trying to challenge the security of the camp through such attacks,” he said.

According to the police, including Jafor, at least five Rohingya volunteer watchmen and three camp leaders have been killed since July. According to APBN officials, almost 8,000 Rohingya volunteer for guard duty.

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.

Jubair blamed ARSA for killing Rohingya leaders who call for refugees to repatriate to Rakhine, their home state in nearby Myanmar. He said that while ARSA claimed that its members were working to “defend and protect” Rohingya against state repression in Myanmar, they wouldn’t flinch in attacking refugees.

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 that provoked a crackdown that began on Aug. 25, 2017 and 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. But that changed with Muhib Ullah’s killing by a group of gunmen and other attacks that followed. 

Md. Harun, a security volunteer and community leader, told BenarNews about Wednesday’s attack: “We suspect that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is behind this latest attack.”

Hasina on Rohingya repatriation

Earlier, on Tuesday, Bangladeshi border guards and police arrested 22 people, including seven Rohingya refugees, when they were trying to go to Malaysia by boat via the Bay of Bengal.

Teknaf Model Police Station chief Hafizur Rahman said that of the 15, seven were Rohingya and the rest were Bangladeshi nationals. And of the 15 Bangladeshis, five were working as agents to send the remaining 10 of their compatriots to Malaysia, the officer said.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday again urged the international community and the United Nations to hasten the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingya to Myanmar, state news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) reported.

Hasina made this call while U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi paid her a courtesy call in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly proceedings.

Hasina also emphasized enhancing the U.N. refugee agency’s activities in Myanmar on Rohingya issues.

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.


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