Rohingya couple under custody of Bangladesh police killed in gunfight

Published September 23, 2019
A Rohingya couple was shot dead during a gunfight in a border town hours after they were detained by Bangladesh police, officials said on Sunday, the latest killings amid growing tensions between the refugees and authorities. — Reuters/File
A Rohingya couple was shot dead during a gunfight in a border town hours after they were detained by Bangladesh police, officials said on Sunday, the latest killings amid growing tensions between the refugees and authorities. — Reuters/File

DHAKA: A Rohingya couple was shot dead during a gunfight in a border town hours after they were detained by Bangladesh police, officials said on Sunday, the latest killings amid growing tensions between the refugees and authorities.

Police in Teknaf town said the refugee couple — Dil Mohammad, 32, and his 26-year-old wife Jaheda Begum — “were members of a Rohingya bandit group”.

Authorities claim the gang killed a local ruling party official, Omar Faruk, in a refugee settlement in south-eastern Bangladesh last month.

At least 13 Rohingya refugees have been killed in alleged gunfights between criminals and officers since Faruk’s murder on August 22, police inspector Ali Arshad said.

“Eleven of them were involved in Faruk’s murder,” he said, but added that while part of the gang, the couple were not accused of carrying out the shooting.

At least 13 refugees have been killed in alleged gunfights between criminals and officers since local leader’s murder

Police officer Mohammad Babul said the pair were detained by investigators late on Saturday and led officials to a suspected gang hideout in search of other alleged members.

He said the officers were ambushed by the group hours later.

“We retaliated with gunfire. The couple sustained severe bullet injuries during the shootout,” Babul said, adding that they were later declared dead in a hospital.

Rights groups have previously accused Bangladesh police of staging gunfights as a cover for the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya, mainly suspects in drug smuggling.

Early this week, UN human rights experts called for an impartial investigation into the Rohingya being killed in gunfights after being named as suspects in Faruk’s killing.

Following the Faruk murder, local residents vandalised refugee shops and staged protests in one of the camps. The settlements are home to nearly a million of the stateless minority who fled oppression in neighbouring Myanmar.

At least 33 Rohingya have been killed by Bangladeshi security personnel in gunfights and another nine killed in internal gang clashes since July last year, according to the police.

UN experts have also expressed “serious concerns” over new restrictions and a virtual internet blackout in the refugee camps.

The ongoing clampdown came after the failure of a fresh attempt to repatriate some of the refugees, the second effort in less than a year.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019

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