Bangladesh police kill four smugglers amid trafficking crisis

Police say traffickers died in shootout during a raid in the Cox's Bazar district, close to the border with Myanmar

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Bangladeshi police shot dead three smugglers accused of trafficking thousands of people and arrested three, officials confirmed on Monday.

The officials said more than 100 people have been arrested in recent months amid a crackdown on a smuggling crisis that mostly affects Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Police said four "notorious" traffickers were killed in the southern Bangladeshi coastal town of Teknaf in the Cox's Bazar district, close to the border with Myanmar. Three were arrested during the raid on Friday.

They are accused of smuggling of thousands of Rohingyas to Thailand and Malaysia.

The raid followed the discovery migrant graves in Thai jungle camps and thousands of asylum seekers on boats on the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

An estimated 25,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh were boarded people smugglers' boats in the first three months of this year, twice as many in the same period of 2014, the UN refugee agency said in a statement on Friday.

Senior regional police officer Jashim Uddin told AFP said one of the accused smugglers is responsible for smuggling more than 1,000 Bangladeshis, “many of whom are now believed to have died in the sea or of starvation.”

More than 3,000 people have been rescued but thousands of young men have gone missing over the past five years, the officials stated, adding that Bangladesh’s navy, coast guard, border guard and police are all active in tracking human traffickers.

Thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship their country of birth, have fled violence and poverty in Myanmar since 2012 following attacks by Buddhist mobs.

Most travel in boats to Thailand, where they are held by traffickers in jungle camps until a ransom is paid.

TRTWorld and agencies