International Desk: Myanmar’s military has killed about 25 members of what it has described as a Rohingya Muslim militant group, state media said on Monday, marking the largest escalation of the conflict since fighting erupted in the northwest a month ago.
The weekend’s killings in restive Rakhine state have essentially destroyed any hopes for a swift resolution to the fighting and a gradual restoration of communal ties, observers and diplomats say.
Soldiers have poured into the Maungdaw area along Myanmar’s frontier with Bangladesh in the north of Rakhine, responding to coordinated attacks on three border posts on October 9 in which nine police officers were killed.
Security forces have locked down the area, where the vast majority are Rohingya Muslims – shutting out aid workers and independent observers – and conducted sweeps of villages.
Skirmishes took place throughout the weekend with state media reporting casualties sustained both on Saturday and Sunday. The total death toll from the weekend was unclear, but included at least 28 alleged attackers and two soldiers.
This has increased the number of casualties since October 9 to more than 60 for the suspected Rohingya Muslim attackers and 17 for the security forces, according to a Reuters estimate based on reports by state-owned media. The violence is the most serious to hit Rakhine since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in 2012.