COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AFP) – Bangladeshi police shot dead two suspected Rohingya human traffickers, officials said yesterday, after rescuing 103 refugees in two days about to make the perilous sea voyage to Malaysia.
The two Rohingya men were killed outside a refugee camp in the southeast on Tuesday evening, said Police Chief of Teknaf, which borders Myanmar, Prodip Kumar Das.
“They opened fire at the police. We fired back in retaliation,” he told AFP.
This is the first time in four years suspected human traffickers were killed in a gunfight in Bangladesh’s southeast.
It follows a rise in attempted human smuggling of Rohingya in the last few months.
People-smugglers have in recent years sent tens of thou-sands of Rohingya from the Bangladesh camps by boat to relatively prosperous Malaysia, usually between November and April when the seas are calmer.
But the route was disrupted in 2015 when a Bangladeshi crackdown killed dozens of top traffickers after Thai authorities discovered mass graves and overcrowded boats drifting at sea.