Myanmar violence: Al-Qaeda calls for attacks

  • 03/09/2017

A senior leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch has called for attacks on Myanmar authorities in support of minority Rohingya Muslims, as thousands flee what they say is a government assault on their villages.

Myanmar's roughly 1.1 million Rohingya pose one of the biggest challenges facing leader Aung San Suu Kyi, accused by Western critics of failing to support the Muslim majority that has long complained of persecution.

In a video message released by al-Qaeda's al-Malahem media foundation on Saturday, Khaled Batarfi called on Muslims in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia to support their Rohingya Muslim brethren against the "enemies of Allah".

Batarfi, who was freed from a Yemeni prison in 2015 when al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized the port city of Mukalla, also urged al Qaeda's Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch to carry out attacks.

"So spare no effort in waging jihad against them and repulsing their attacks, and beware of letting down our brothers in Burma (Myanmar)," Batarfi said, according to the US-based monitoring centre.

About 58,600 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh from Myanmar, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Myanmar officials accuse the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) of burning homes. The group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on security posts last week that prompted clashes and a large army counter-offensive.

But Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say the Myanmar army is conducting a campaign of arson and killings to drive them out.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and regarded as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots that date back centuries. Bangladesh, where more than 400,000 Rohingya live since they began fleeing Myanmar in the 1990s, is also growing increasingly hostile to the minority.

The UK is hoping Ms Suu Kyi will use her "remarkable qualities" to end violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, which has prompted tens of thousands to flee the country.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is, alas, besmirching the reputation of Burma," Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.

"I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities," he said.


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