Several killed in clash in Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

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Two groups of Rohingya refugees clashed in a camp in southern Bangladesh on Friday, leaving at least six refugees dead and another 10 injured, police said.

Violence erupted in the Cox’s Bazar district when one side opened fire and killed four people at the scene, said Shihab Kaiser Khan, commander of the Armed Police Battalion, which oversees the camp’s security.

Two others died in a hospital while receiving treatment for their injuries, Khan said.

It was not immediately clear why the violence broke out, but local media said the two sides were fighting to establish supremacy in the camp over an illegal drug business. Bangladeshi officials previously said that some Rohingya groups are involved in serious crimes such as kidnapping and ransom-seeking, and that they use the camps to smuggle drugs from Myanmar, where they lived before arriving in Bangladesh.

Khan said a Rohingya man was detained with weapons, but did not provide further details. He said police were searching the camp for other suspects.

Friday’s violence came about three weeks after an international representative of Rohingya refugees was shot and killed in the camp in the same Ukhiya sub-district.

Mohibullah, 40, was a teacher who emerged as a key refugee leader and a spokesperson representing the Muslim ethnic group at international meetings. He visited the White House in 2019 for a religious freedom meeting with then-President Donald Trump and spoke about the suffering and persecution facing the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The police have made several arrests related to his murder.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the mostly Buddhist army in Myanmar launched a harsh crackdown on the Muslim ethnic group following an attack by insurgents. They joined hundreds of thousands of people who have fled to Bangladesh for decades.

The 2017 crackdown included rape, murder and burning of thousands of homes, and was called ethnic cleansing by human rights groups and the UN. While Bangladesh and Myanmar have tried to organize repatriations, the Rohingya are too afraid to return home.

Overall, Bangladesh has hosted more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar after previous waves of persecution.

(AP)