Hundreds of Muslims killed fleeing persecution in Burma

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Nearly 400 people have died in Burma in a week as 38,000 Rohingya Muslims flee across the border into Bangladesh to escape persecution by the army.

UN observers said the violence was the most deadly to affect the minority group in decades following a government-backed crackdown.

Bangladesh coastguards said they had found the bodies of 20 people – mostly women and children — who drowned while, fleeing, amid the exodus from Rakhine state in Burma.

The Burmese army claims it is conducting operations against “extremist terrorists” who have launched attacks, and that security forces have been told to protect civilians. But Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say a campaign of killings and village-burnings aims to force the population out. 

Hundreds killed: Families at the border between Burma and Bangladesh (REUTERS)

Rohingya rebels attacked 30 police stations last week. 

The Burmese military said about 370 Rohingya insurgents, 13 security forces, two government officials and 14 civilians, have died in clashes. 

The UN in Bangladesh said yesterday that about 27,400 have crossed the frontier since Friday.

About 20,000 more are stuck in no man’s land at the border, the UN said, as aid workers in Bangladesh struggle to deal with an influx of thousands of people.

The treatment of Burma’s 1.1 million Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused of not speaking out over the issue.

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