Bangladesh arrests 16 Rohingyas in anti-militant crackdown

Arrests are made as part of a drive launched by police following the assassination of Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah

Bangladesh police detained at least 16 Rohingya refugees during a string of "special raids" on camps in Cox's Bazar after the murder of a prominent Rohingya community leader in the last week, officials announced on Sunday.

Rights activist Mohib Ullah was gunned down 10 days ago by unknown suspects in front of his office in Kutupalong which is the largest refugee camp in Bangladesh's southeast.

His family and members of the community have blamed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) -an extremist group responsible for several attack on Myanmar security establishments -- claiming that the rising popularity of Mohib Ullah was a source of anger for the group. ARSA has denied involvement in the killing.

The 48-year old was among the most well-known moderate voices in the fight for Rohingya refugees following the fact that nearly 800,000 people left Myanmar to the Bangladeshi Cox's Bazar district following military attacks on their villages in 2017.

"We have arrested 16 people in the past three days as part of a special drive we have launched after the murder of Mohib Ullah," said Naimul Huq, the commander for the 14th APBn who is responsible for the raids.

However, Huq said that the people detained weren't "involved in the murder of Mohib Ullah" and ARSA does not have a presence in the camps.

The arrests are part of a larger law enforcement crackdown against the camps. The arrests come just a week after the arrests of five other people who were detained for the murder as well as local news reports that said one the suspects confessed.

Rohingya group leaders as well as rights activists have frequently said militants are present in the refugee camp and Mohib Ullah's relatives said to AFP this month that they are terrified of having to leave their home.

"ARSA has created a reign of terror in the camps," an official of the leader's rights group said to AFP and asked not to be identified.

"Since Mohib Ullah's murder, I haven't been able to go to my home. I've been hiding since the murder. ARSA members are following us and threatening us. I am helpless."

Another community leader stated: "ARSA militants tried to kidnap one of my relatives and the son of one of our members. Now we are all scared of our life. They want to kill me".


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