Annan commission calls on Myanmar to end Rohingya restrictions

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan arrives to present the final report on Rakhine at Sule Shangri La Hotel in Yangon on August 24. Zarni Phyo  The Myanmar Times

On Saturday an AFP news agency reporter at Bangladesh's Ghumdhum border post counted more than a dozen mortar shells and countless machine gun rounds fired by Myanmar security forces in nearby hills onto a large group of Rohingya desperately trying to cross.

Minority Rohingya Muslims have been targeted as part of a security crackdown since a similar attack on police posts in October of a year ago.

The death toll from widespread attacks staged by Rohingya insurgents on Friday has climbed to 96, including almost 80 insurgents and 12 members of the security forces, the government said, prompting it to evacuate staff and villagers from some areas.

The UN's top official in Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessallien, called on all sides to "refrain from violence, protect civilians (and) restore law and order".

Tension and fear were running high after 96 people - alleged insurgents and 12 security personnel - were killed on Friday in attacks on about 30 police posts.

Friday's violence pushed more Rohingya to leave, with two boats containing around 150 women, children and elderly people attempting to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh.

"We are running for our lives", said one of 700 villagers trapped min Zay Di Pyin village, adding that houses were on fire.

The Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship in Myanmar and are classified as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite claiming roots in the region that go back centuries.

"Bangladesh also pointed out that the terrorist attacks and clashes occurred at a time when the Rakhine Advisory Commission, popularly known as Kofi Annan Commission, made recommendations towards a durable solution for the Rakhine state", said the statement.

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According to AlJazeera news, at least 77 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the clashes.

More than 20 posts were targeted by Muslim militants in pre-dawn raids, the government said, in Rakhine's worst violence for months.

In December 2016, More than a dozen Nobel laureates criticized fellow peace prize victor Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing enough to curb the "ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" against minority Rohingya Muslims in the country.

Bangladesh has a significant population of Rohingya refugees, and 87,000 have arrived since October.

Mr Annan led global condemnation of the attacks, saying he was "gravely concerned".

"This is a legitimate step for us to defend the world's persecuted people and liberate the oppressed people from the hands of the oppressors!" the group said.

The US also condemned the attacks on security forces and it warned the government against indiscriminate reprisals.

Last October, the army launched counterinsurgency operations in Rohingya areas of the state after the killing of nine border guards by insurgents described by the government as terrorists. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people were slain during the operation.

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