Bangladesh sends troops to halt Rohingya refugee drug fighting

COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH (AFP) – Bangladesh has sent more troops into the world’s largest refugee camp, police said yesterday, after days of fighting between rival Rohingya drug gangs left seven people dead.

Two armed gangs of refugees from Myanmar are waging a deadly turf war in the sprawling camp, home to almost a million people, over control of the lucrative cross-border methamphetamine trade.

The seven killed in the past six days include one woman, an official said. Several others have reportedly been injured.

“We found four bodies at the Lambasia refugee camp on Tuesday night. Three of them were shot dead and another had stab marks,” Deputy Police Chief of Cox’s Bazar district Rafiqul Islam told AFP.

He said hundreds of military and armed police have been deployed since fighting began on October 2, with numbers scaled up after Tuesday’s clashes.

Rohingya refugee children wait for customers at a market in Kutupalong refugee camp, in Ukhia. PHOTO: AFP

“The situation is now calm,” he added.

The camps have for over three years served as a home for nearly one million Muslim Rohingya fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar.

That crackdown – which the United Nations (UN) has said could constitute genocide – followed attacks on Myanmar security posts by the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

Rohingya leaders said ARSA was now involved in a turf war with the Munna Gang, named after a top drug smuggler based in Kutupalong camp. His elder brother and three members of his family were reportedly killed in the clashes.

“ARSA has claimed responsibility for the killing of four people, who are relatives of a Rohingya gang leader,” said one activist.