Two Rohingya camp leaders killed in Bangladesh

Police spokesman Faruk Ahmed says the two Rohingya leaders were killed at Camp 13 in one of the worst attacks in recent months.

A Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
A Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh [File: Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

A mob of a dozen people hacked to death two Rohingya community leaders in Bangladesh as security worsens in camps housing almost one million refugees.

Police spokesman Faruk Ahmed said the Rohingya leaders were killed late on Saturday at Camp 13, calling it one of the worst attacks in recent months.

“More than a dozen Rohingya miscreants hacked Maulvi Mohammad Yunus, 38, who is the head majhi of Camp 13. They also killed Mohammad Anwar, 38, another majhi. Yunus died on the spot and Anwar died at a hospital,” said Ahmed.

“Majhi” is a term for a Rohingya camp leader.

A senior officer of an elite police unit tasked with security in the camps blamed the killings on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed group fighting the military in Myanmar.

“These are targeted killings by ARSA. The internal clashes in Myanmar are impacting the security situation in the camps,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The squalid settlements have seen escalating violence in recent months, with gangs trying to assert control over drug trafficking and intimidate the refugees’ civilian leadership through killings and abductions.

‘They killed my uncle’

Bangladesh has housed Rohingya refugees in a vast sprawl of camps since they fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that is now the subject of a genocide investigation at the United Nations top court.

Gangs have long fought turf wars for control of the drug trade, centred on “yaba” methamphetamine pills, but the police chief of the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar said there was an escalation taking place.

“In the last three months alone at least 14 Rohingyas were murdered in the camps. The number of murders in the camp has increased compared to last year,” Mahfuzul Islam said.

A Rohingya community leader and a nephew of one of those killed also blamed ARSA for the murders.

“ARSA killed my uncle last night. My uncle used to tell them not to deal in drugs. He would supervise voluntarily patrolling in the camps. They killed my uncle,” the nephew said, asking to remain anonymous out of fear for his safety.

ARSA has not publicly commented on Saturday’s killings.

Several of its members earlier this year were charged over the murder of top Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah in September last year. ARSA has denied its involvement.

The assassination sent shockwaves through the sprawling border settlements that house hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya refugees who fled a violent crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.

The killing of Ullah, who had been received at the White House by then-President Donald Trump, also sparked a major crackdown by Bangladeshi authorities, with at least 8,000 suspected ARSA members arrested.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies