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Helicopter fired on Rohingya, refugee says


A young Rohingya refugee who tried to flee Burma following bloody sectarian clashes in Rakhine State says an unidentified helicopter fired on boats carrying Rohingya refugees who were attempting to flee to Bangladesh.

The account was described by a 10-year-old girl in an article by Radio Free Asia (RFA) on its website on Thursday.

The story did not say exactly when the incident took place or identity the helicopter’s country of origin. The account was not confirmed by any other sources. 

The shooting took place after Bangladesh border guards turned back six boats of refugees as they tried to enter the country from neighbouring Burma across the river Naf to Teknaf town in the southernmost part of mainland Bangladesh, RFA said, quoting the girl.

“We floated in the sea for four days and my younger brother starved to death,” said Minara Begum, a 10-year-old girl, speaking through an interpreter.

“We had six boats. Then a helicopter came and opened fire, and three boats were lost, all of those people [in them] were killed,”  she was quoted as saying. It was not clear if the gunfire caused the deaths or the boats and refugees were lost at sea.

She did not specify the exact date of the incident, which she said occurred sometime earlier this month, or whether the helicopter was  from Burma or Bangladesh.

The young girl, who is from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Burma, is among a group of refugees now sheltered and hidden from the authorities by a Bangladeshi woman, the article said.

The woman said she was moved by the plight of the Rohingyas, a stateless people described by the U.N. as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 June 2012 16:34 )  

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