DHAKA: A fourth Rohingya refugee was shot dead, Bangladesh police said on Sunday, amid growing fallout over the murder of a ruling party official that sparked a violent backlash from locals.

There has been an outbreak of violence in recent weeks at refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh, where nearly one million Rohingya live after fleeing crackdowns in Myanmar.

At least five Rohingya men have died in clashes in the settlements — allegedly over gang violence — while an Awami League official was shot in the head in late August at Jadimura camp in the border town of Teknaf.

Police blamed Omar Faruk’s death on Rohingya hitmen, and have shot dead three refugees over the past week in connection with the incident.

The latest to die was 36-year-old Nur Mohammad, who officers allege was a Rohingya gang leader who arrived in Bangladesh in 1992 and was operating in the hills around the refugee camps.

Local officials say Mohammad was a drug trafficking kingpin involved in using refugees to smuggle yaba, a popular methamphetamine pill, from across the Myanmar border.

“He was arrested over Faruk’s murder on Saturday. We took him to find out his weapons in a hill when his accomplices fired on police (on Sunday),” police spokesman Ikbal Hossain said.

“We fired back and later found Mohammad’s bullet-riddled body.” Rights groups have previously accused Bangladesh police of extrajudicial killings.

Hundreds of enraged locals living near Jadimura camp stormed the settlement after Faruk’s murder, looting and vandalising scores of Rohingya shops and houses.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2019