While the government of Myanmar announced that 12 security forces and 77 Rohingya people were killed in the incident, the Myanmar Times website reported, “One soldier, one immigration officer, 10 policemen and 59 Rohingya militants were killed in the fighting. As many as 150 militants are said to have been involved in the attacks in at least 30 locations in Maungdaw district of northern Rakhine,” IRNA reported.
Muslims have settled in Rakhine State (also known as Arakan) since the 15th century.
Myanmar government recognizes no civilian right for the Rohingya community considering them as a group of refugees coming to Myanmar from Bangladesh.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claimed the responsibility for the attack which happened one day after the Rakhine Advisory Commission meeting chaired by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was held to find solutions for the ongoing tensions in Rakhine.
“Rakhine also represents a human rights crisis. While all communities have suffered from violence and abuse, protracted statelessness and profound discrimination have made the Muslim community particularly vulnerable to human rights violations,” the commission said in its final report.
Prior to the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis and the military crackdown in 2016 and 2017, the Rohingya population in Myanmar was around 1.1 to 1.3 million. They reside mainly in the northern Rakhine townships.
Many Rohingyas have fled to neighboring states. More than 100,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar live in camps for internally displaced persons, not allowed by authorities to leave.
Probes by the UN have found evidence of increasing incitement of hatred and religious intolerance against Rohingyas while the Burmese security forces have been conducting summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and ill-treatment and forced labor against the community.
International media and human rights organizations have often described Rohingyas as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. According to the United Nations, the human rights violations against Rohingyas could be termed as 'crimes against humanity'.