Bangladesh extends aid to Myanmar army against Rohingya rebels

Bangladesh has said it is willing to extend aid to Myanmar army against Rohingya rebels and has even proposed joint military operations against the Rohingya militants who are fighting in Rakhine state.

The current clashes began on Friday when Rohingya militants staged coordinated ambushes against Myanmar’s security forces.

The fighting has led to death of more than 100 people, including around 80 militants. Further thousands of Rohingya villagers have fled for Bangladesh. The UN is deeply concerned with the killings of civilians. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has called upon Bangladesh to step up assistance to civilians escaping the violence, noting “many of those fleeing are women and children, some of whom are wounded”.

More than 3,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar, where the stateless Muslim minority faces persecution, in the past three days, the UN refugee agency said Monday. Bangladesh has confirmed presence of thousands more Rohingya at its border with Myanmar. It has stepped up patrols and pushed back hundreds of civilians who have tried to enter.

In a meeting with Myanmar’s charge d’affaires in Dhaka, a top Bangladeshi foreign ministry official proposed joint military efforts against the militants along the border. According to a Bangladesh foreign ministry official, if Myanmar wants, Bangladesh will join hands with the country’s security forces and help them conduct joint operations against the militants, any non-state actors or the Arakan Army along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is a militant group that says it is fighting to protect the Muslim minority from abuses by Myanmar security forces and the majority-Buddhist Rakhine community. There was no comment from the Myanmar diplomat.

At the weekend, as violence in Rakhine worsened, Bangladesh’s foreign minister summoned Myanmar’s charge’d affaires in Dhaka to express “serious concern” at the possibility of a fresh refugee influx.

There are already some 400,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in squalid camps near its border with Myanmar. Bangladesh is waging a bloody crackdown on homegrown Islamist militancy and has vowed ‘zero tolerance’ towards violent extremism, domestic or otherwise, on its soil.

Dhaka has repeatedly asked Myanmar to take back the Rohingya refugees and address the root causes of problem. Despite decades of persecution, the Rohingya in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state largely eschewed violence. But in October ARSA, a small and previously unknown militant group, staged a series of well coordinated and deadly attacks on security forces.

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