Refugees and local Bengalis clash with Bangladesh forest officials over demolition of mosque and shelters

Junuary 6, 2017

Tensions broke out in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh as local people and Rohingya refugees clashed with forest officials.

The clashes erupted as official from the Forestry Department demolished hundreds of flimsy shelters recently constructed to house newly arrived Rohingya families. At one point, the officials proceeded to demolish a mosque set up recently.

As news of the mosque destruction spread, scores of local Bengalis from Palonkhali under the leadership of an influential local politician turned up the area and swore revenge on the government officials for demolishing the prayer area. They were joined by the Rohingyas and together they hurled stones at the forest officials.

In retaliation, the forest officials fired 13 shots in the air.

Earlier incidents when forest officials had demolished newly constructed shelters in Kutupalong had passed without violence, but the destruction of the prayer place triggered an emotional outburst from both local Bengalis and Rohingya refugees, said our correspondent in the area.