The request to cooperate against members of ARSA militia group comes as the military continues to persecute Rohingya Muslims.

Some 400 people – most of them Rohingya Muslims – have died in violence searing through Myanmars Rakhine state.
Some 400 people – most of them Rohingya Muslims – have died in violence searing through Myanmars Rakhine state. (AFP)

Myanmar urged Muslims in its troubled northwest to cooperate in the search for insurgents. The coordinated attacks by a militia on security posts and a resultant army crackdown have led to one of the deadliest bouts of violence to engulf the Rohingya community in decades.

Aid agencies estimate about 73,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh from Myanmar since violence erupted last week, UNHCR regional spokeswoman Vivian Tan said on Sunday.

Hundreds more refugees on Sunday walked through rice paddies from the Naf river separating the two countries into Bangladesh, straining scarce resources of aid groups and local communities already helping tens of thousands.

"Islamic villagers in northern Maungtaw have been urged over loudspeakers to cooperate when security forces search for Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) extremist terrorists, and not to pose a threat or brandish weapons when security forces enter their villages," the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said on Sunday.

ARSA has been declared a terrorist organisation by the government. The group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on security posts last week.

In Bangladesh, authorities said at least 53 bodies of Rohingya had either been found floating in the Naf river or washed up on the beach in the past week.
In Bangladesh, authorities said at least 53 bodies of Rohingya had either been found floating in the Naf river or washed up on the beach in the past week. (Reuters)

No relief

Relief camps were reaching full capacity as thousands of Rohingya refugees continued to pour into Bangladesh fleeing the violence.

The violence and the exodus began after ARSA is said to have attacked Myanmar police and paramilitary posts in what they said was an effort to protect their ethnic minority from persecution by security forces in the majority Buddhist country. In response, the military unleashed what it called "clearance operations" to root out the insurgents.

The clashes and military counteroffensive have killed nearly 400 people during the past week, mostly insurgents.

Another aid official said Saturday that more than 50 refugees had arrived with bullet injuries and were moved to hospitals in Cox's Bazar, on the border with Myanmar. 

Refugees reaching the Bangladeshi fishing village of Shah Porir Dwip described bombs exploding near their homes and Rohingya being burned alive.

The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar's roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecution.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that violence against Muslims amounted to genocide.

It marks a dramatic escalation of a conflict that has simmered since October, when a smaller Rohingya attack carried out by ARSA on security posts prompted a military response dogged by allegations of rights abuses.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies