Hundreds of buildings in Rohingya villages in western Myanmar have been torched, according to new satellite images released on Sunday as fresh fighting flared in the strife-torn region. Northern Rakhine, which is home to the Muslim Rohingya minority and borders Bangladesh, has been under military lockdown ever since surprise raids on border posts left nine police dead last month.
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Soldiers have killed several dozen people and arrested scores in their hunt for the attackers, who the government says are radicalised Rohingya militants with links to overseas Islamists. Fresh fighting flared yesterday with two soldiers and six attackers killed, according to the military who said they brought in helicopter gunships to repel an ambush.
The crisis and reports of grave rights abuses being carried out in tandem with the security crackdown have piled international pressure on Myanmar’s new civilian government and raised questions about its ability to control its military. Authorities have heavily restricted access to the area, making it difficult to independently verify government reports or accusations of army abuse.
New satellite images released by Human Rights Watch show what the group said was evidence of mass arson attacks against Rohingya villages. Their analysis showed more than 400 buildings torched in three Rohingya villages where the fighting has been taking place. The group said active fires and burn scars showed that most of the destruction was caused by arson. The latest images were taken on 10 November.