18,500 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh as fight rages

Maungdaw: At least 18,500 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since fighting erupted in Myanmar’s neighbouring Rakhine state six days ago, the International Organization for Migration said on Wednesday.
Plumes of smoke billowed from several burning villages in the worst-hit section of the state as the violence showed little sign of abating despite security sweeps by Myanmar’s police and troops.
The streets of Maungdaw — northern Rakhine’s largest town — were virtually deserted as fires flickered among charred remains of houses and the occasional burst of gunfire echoed in the distance.
The clashes began on Friday after militants from Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority community staged deadly surprise raids on police posts.
At least 110 people, including 11 state officials, have been confirmed dead and thousands of Rohingya have poured across the border to Bangladesh despite Dhaka’s attempts to stop them. An estimated 6,000 Rohingya on Tuesday massed at the “zero line” border with Bangladesh, days after the area came under mortar and machine gun fire by Myanmar security forces. The Rohingya, the world’s largest stateless minority and subject to severe restrictions on their movements, are barred from officially crossing. — AFP