MORE than 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including 730 under the age of five, were killed in the first month of Myanmar’s military crackdown against the persecuted minority, international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) declared yesterday.
The figure is thought to fall far short of the actual number of people killed in the country’s northern Rakhine state between August and September and eclipses Myanmar’s official death toll of 400.
MSF medical director Sidney Wong called the findings “staggering,” both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member dead due to violence and the horrific ways in which they were killed or severely injured.
The humanitarian organisation, which collected the data from refugee camps in Bangladesh, heard reports of entire families being killed after soldiers locked them in their homes and set the buildings alight.
More than 630,000 Rohingya have fled their homeland into Bangladesh since August to escape what the United Nations has termed “ethnic cleansing.”
“The peak in deaths coincides with the launch of the latest ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar security forces in the last week of August,” said MSF medical director Sidney Wong.
MSF said that among children below the age of five, more than 59 per cent killed during that period were reportedly shot, 15 per cent burnt to death in their homes, 7 per cent beaten to death and 2 per cent died due to landmine blasts.
Myanmar’s Information Ministry claims that most of the 400 people in its official death toll were “extremist terrorists” who died during military “clearance operations.”
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