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WASHINGTON – The U.S. government, a key sponsor of Myanmar's democratic transition, says a security crackdown that has displaced tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims and left an unknown number dead risks radicalizing a downtrodden people and stoking religious tensions in Southeast Asia.
The military moved in after armed attacks by unknown assailants on police posts along the border with Bangladesh in October. The attacks were a possible sign that a small number of Rohingya were starting to fight back against persecution by majority Buddhists who view them as illegal immigrants although many have lived in Myanmar for generations.
The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, is critical of the military's heavy-handed approach and says the escalation of violence risks inciting jihadist extremism in the country also known as Burma.