Militants may shift to cross-border attacks
Rohingya Muslim insurgents who have fled Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh camps may stage cross-border attacks, aiming at security targets and non-Muslims, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned in a new report.
But the non-governmental organisation cautioned countries against imposing further sanctions on Myanmar, saying these are “unlikely to produce positive change”. “Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis enters a dangerous new phase” published on Thursday (Dec 7), said the home-grown Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) militant group “appears determined to regroup and remain relevant” following its attacks on police posts and an army base in Rakhine state in August, which led to a security crackdown.While it has not launched any new attack since then, it “will undoubtedly strive to do so”.
Led by a network of respected local leaders, including young mullahs or religious leaders, Arsa has to date organised cells within hundreds of villages to try and start an uprising by sending large numbers of ordinary villagers to overrun police posts with farm tools, a departure from its previous approach of stationing uniformed, armed militants in camps, ICG added. “Yet operating under cover of the civilian population is no longer possible given that few Rohingya villages remain. Most of the group’s organizers and fighters are now in the Bangladesh camps.”
“The group may thus shift to cross-border attacks, which would require different training, access to weapons as well as operating space in Bangladesh,” it said, adding it could aim at “opportunistic security targets in northern Rakhine or turn to attacking any non-Muslim villagers resettled on Rohingya lands, an easier target”. The ICG warned that such attacks could escalate tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar, potentially leading to clashes between the military of the two countries. They would also reinforce anti-Rohingya sentiment within Myanmar and prompt stronger security measures, which would hinder the chances of the return of the refugees.
Furthermore, attacks against Rakhine Buddhists would inflame anti-Muslim sentiment and tip central Rakhine state – so far untouched by the recent violence – into crisis, Dr Subir Bhaumik, a consulting editor with Mizzima Media in Myanmar, told The Straits Times he did not agree that Arsa has a large number of organised cells led by respected religious leaders. He estimated that there are up to 30 squads in northern Rakhine who are “led by young radicalize alienated Rohingyas, some of them mullahs”. Source: Asia Nation
Rohingya Muslim refugees children queue for aid suplies at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar