Rohingya killed in Burma violence, says aid group

Rohingya Muslims who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh wait to receive aid during its distribution near Balukhali refugee camp Bangladesh. International aid group Doctors Without Borders said Thursday Dec. 1

"The findings of MSF's surveys show that the Rohingya have been targeted, and are the clearest indication yet of the widespread violence that started on August 25 when the Myanmar military, police and local militias launched the latest "clearance operations" in Rakhine in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army", it said.

The Myanmar military blames the violence on "terrorists" and has denied any wrongdoing.

She said the findings were staggering, in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member dead as a result of violence and horrific ways in which they said they were killed or injured.

"At least 6,700 Rohingya, in the most conservative estimations, are estimated to have been killed, including at least 730 children below the age of five", MSF said Thursday.

The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar on Friday sought to up pressure on the country's government over the whereabouts of two Reuters journalists who have been held captive for days, according to reports. The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

After an internal investigation, the Myanmar army in November exonerated itself of any blame regarding the crisis.

A Turkish aid group has sent four tons of food and dug 50 wells for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, according to the group.

Though more than a million ethnic Rohingya Muslims have lived in the country for generations, they were stripped of their citizenship, denied nearly all rights and labelled stateless.

Around 630,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh to escape what the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing".

"We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh", said the group's medical director Sidney Wong. Gunshots were the leading cause in violent deaths (69 percent), followed by being burnt to death (9 percent) and beaten to death (5 percent).

The MSF noted that considering the unsafe environment for Rohingya refugees in Rakhine region, the agreement for their return signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar is premature.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority who have long experienced persecution in Myanmar.

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