Mass casaulties feared as Tatmadaw renew offensive in Maungdaw North


November 12, 2016

The Tatmadaw have launched renewed attacks against various Rohingya settlements in the Northern regions of Maungdaw township leading to fears that a fresh round of offensive is in the making. There are unconfirmed reports the Tatmadaw has also used helicopter gunships against civilians.

At around 10am, a Tatmadaw team fired rockets at Rohingya houses in Sa Li Frang, setting fire to dozens of houses in the village. Our correspondent in the area says there is likely to be multiple casualties from the attack.

At around 3.30pm, helicopter gunships were seen approaching Sau Ra Gazi Bil. All communications to the village are cut off as Rohingyas have all fled the settlement. There are unconfirmed reports that the helicopters have been firing at civilians. Sources say the helicopters approached from the direction of Buthidaung where the Tatmadaw has an air base.

One source said gunfire, explosions and cries for help could be heard from the direction of the village.

At the same time, an army team backed by heavy artillery moved in the direction of Bali Bazar and began firing in the direction of the villagers.

If the reports of helicopter attacks prove to be true, it would mark a significant escalation in the violence that started since October 9. However, it seems even at the very least, the crackdown is being pursued with renewed vigour since Saturday morning. In the first few days of the crackdown, the Tatmadaw launched intense offensives killing dozens in the villages of the northern Maungdaw region especially in Kya Ri prang, Nga Sa Gru, Hainda para, Kawa Bil and Bura Sidha para. Offensives have continued since then, resulting in dozens of rapes and disappearances all over the northern region of the township, but the vast number of casualties from the crackdown took place in the first few days. However, suddenly it looks like the Tatmadaw have resorted to a more  aggressive approach, which is likely to bring about more mass casualties.

Information is difficult to obtain at the moment as all Rohingyas in the affected areas are on the run.