DHAKA: At least four people died late on Tuesday when members of two criminal factions attacked each other in a sprawling camp for Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh police said.
Twenty other refugees were injured as the two groups opened fire with locally made guns and used sharp weapons at Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar district, said Rafiqul Islam, an additional police superintendent.
Security was heightened in the camps in the district, where more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been sheltered by the government, he said.
The official said at least seven Rohingya refugees, including those who died on Tuesday, have been killed in clashes to establish dominance in the area over the last few days.
Bangladesh authorities and intelligence officials say some refugees are involved in the illicit drug trade, smuggling, robberies and ransom-seeking.
The elite security agency Rapid Action Battalion arrested nine refugees suspected of involvement in various criminal activities. They possessed firearms, bullets and sharp weapons, Islam said.
Local media reported that the clash began after the arrests when one group accused the other of helping the security agency.
Human rights groups working in the camps acknowledge there are criminals among the refugees.
In January, at least four suspected criminals were killed in a gunfight with police, and in March last year seven others were fatally shot by security officials. They were accused of involvement in drug dealing and human trafficking.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after the military in Buddhist-majority Myanmar launched a crackdown against them in August 2017 in response to an attack by insurgents.Bangladesh has sent more troops into the world’s largest refugee camp, police said on Wednesday, after days of fighting between rival Rohingya drug gangs left seven people dead.
Two armed gangs of refugees from Myanmar are waging a deadly turf war in the sprawling camp, home to almost a million people, over control of the lucrative cross-border methamphetamine trade.“We found four bodies at the Lambasia refugee camp on Tuesday night. Three of them were shot dead and another had stab marks,” Rafiqul Islam, deputy police chief of Cox’s Bazar district, said.
He said hundreds of military and armed police have been deployed since fighting began on October 2, with numbers scaled up after Tuesday’s clashes.
“The situation is now calm,” he added. Rohingya leaders said the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) was now involved in a turf war with the Munna Gang, named after a top drug smuggler based in Kutupalong camp. His elder brother and three members of his family were reportedly killed in the clashes.
“ARSA has claimed responsibility for the killing of four people, who are relatives of a Rohingya gang leader,” said one activist, who added he was relocating his family to another section because of the fighting.
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2020