World

Myanmar pursuing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya: U.N. official

Thousands of desperate people have pushed over the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their ethnic group (AFP Photo/Munir Uz Zaman)

Myanmar is engaged in ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, a UN official has said, as reports emerged Friday of troops shooting at villagers as they tried to flee.Thousands of desperate people have pushed over the border into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their ethnic group.John McKissick, head of the United Nations refugee agency in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox's Bazar, said troops in Myanmar were killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river into Bangladesh.The UN says up to 30,000 Rohingya, a stateless ethnic group, have abandoned their homes in Myanmar, desperate to escape the soldiers that have poured into the strip of land where they live near the Bangladesh border.Dhaka says thousands are massed on the border, but has refused urgent international appeals to let them in, instead calling on Myanmar to do more to stop people fleeing.

"They took women in rooms and then locked them from inside. Up to 50 women and girls of our village were tortured and raped."

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Myanmar

Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma, is a sovereign state in South East Asia bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.