COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh – Three boats carrying ethnic Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar have capsized in Bangladesh and 26 bodies of women and children have been recovered, officials said Thursday.
Bangladesh border guard commander Lt. Col. S.M. Ariful Islam said at least three boats carrying an unknown number of Rohingya Muslims capsized in the Naf River at Teknaf in Cox's Bazar on Wednesday. He said the bodies of 15 children and 11 women were recovered, and it was unclear whether anyone was still missing.
The top official in Cox's Bazar, Mohammad Ali Hossain, said the bodies would be buried because no one had claimed them.
Last week, a group of ethnic minority Rohingya insurgents attacked at least two dozen police posts in Myanmar's Rakhine state, triggering fighting with security forces that left more than 100 people dead and forced at least 18,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.
Hundreds of people have been stranded in a no man's land at the countries' border, the International Organization for Migration said. Satellite imagery analyzed by U.S.-based Human Rights Watch indicated that many homes in northern Rakhine state were set ablaze.
Most of Myanmar's estimated 1 million Rohingya Muslims live in northern Rakhine state. They face severe persecution in the Buddhist-majority country, which refuses to recognize them as a legitimate native ethnic minority, leaving them without citizenship and basic rights.
Longstanding tension between the Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in bloody rioting in 2012. That set off a surge of anti-Muslim feeling throughout the country.