Yangon division: Two Myanmar security officers and a driver were wounded by Rohingya rebels who ambushed their vehicle in northern Rakhine state, the army said Saturday, the first apparent insurgent attack to hit the violence-scarred region in weeks.
Rakhine was plunged into crisis last August after a series of militant raids that killed at least a dozen officials prompted a brutal military crackdown that sent some 650,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh.
While the army insists it only targeted Rohingya rebels, the UN has accused Myanmar troops of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the persecuted minority.
The insurgents, known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), have launched few attacks since the sweeping military reprisal sparked the mass exodus.
But on Friday morning, “about ten” Rohingya militants ambushed a car travelling through northern Rakhine state with hand-made mines and gunfire, the army chief`s office said in a statement.
“Two security personnel and a driver were injured,” it said. “Security members shot back at them and the terrorists retreated.”
Myanmar`s military, which denies carrying out any abuses against the Rohingya, has tightly controlled access to northern Rakhine by blocking independent reporting trips and a UN fact-finding mission.
The refugees massing in Bangladesh, however, have told consistent accounts of being driven from their homes by soldiers in a campaign of murder, mass rape and arson.
Any uptick in violence or fresh build-up of troops in Rakhine will deepen concerns about plans to begin repatriating refugees later this month.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in November allowing for repatriations from January 23.
But many aid groups and diplomats have expressed doubt that fearful Rohingya will agree to return.
The Rohingya have been the target of decades of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which does not recognise the group as a genuine ethnicity and has stripped them of citizenship.