MAUNGDAW, Rakhine State — Four Arakanese men were killed and another seriously injured by a mob of Rohingya Muslims in Maungdaw Township in conflict-torn northern Rakhine State on Wednesday morning, according to the district administrator.
The five men were attacked with swords near the Muslim-majority village of Zula, said Maungdaw District Administrator U Ye Htut.
“Four were dead and the other man is seriously wounded,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The region has been reeling from the August 25 attacks of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 police stations and an army base, which left 12 security personnel and at least 59 militants dead.
About 18,000 Rohingya are estimated to have crossed into Bangladesh in the last week in order to flee the violence, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday. Security forces reportedly shot some Rohingya as they tried to cross the border.
Meanwhile, thousands of Buddhists and Hindus have been evacuated to shelters dotted around the region.
According to witnesses from nearby Thazi village, the five men were approaching Zula after seeing fire come from the village.
“When they were approaching the village, about 10 Bengalis hiding in the field attacked them,” said Maung Thein Aung from the Arakanese majority-Thazi village, using a term for the stateless Rohingya that implies they are interlopers from Bangladesh. “It happened right between the road and Zula.”
Thazi resident Ko Hla Thein Aung told The Irrawaddy in his village on Wednesday afternoon that there were 10 security members nearby at the time of the attack.
“But they were a bit far so all they could do was fire four warning shots,” he said. “The Bengalis ignored it.”
The troops would have been outnumbered and attacked if they chased the culprits into Zula village, he added.
Dozens of deaths have been reported over the past five days—some civilian, including the killing of six members of a Hindu family in southern Maungdaw on Saturday that the government said was at the hands of militants.
The Myanmar government declared ARSA a terrorist organization the following day. ARSA has been carrying out arson attacks on local homes and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs), according to the government.
More than 2,300 buildings in Maungdaw and surrounding villages were razed during ARSA attacks, the government announced on Monday.
However, ARSA has accused the military of burning homes, a claim supported by the accounts of some Rohingya villagers. Satellite data shows widespread fires burning in at least 10 areas of northern Rakhine, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) statement on Tuesday.
Burnings were seen across 100 kilometers in length, roughly five times larger than the area where burnings by the Myanmar Army occurred from October to November 2016, said HRW. Over those months, data from HRW suggested about 1,500 buildings were destroyed.
ARSA has stated in a series of statements and videos that it is committed to securing citizenship and basic civil rights within Myanmar for the Rohingya and has maintained that it does not target civilians.