Bangladesh arrests key Rohingya rebel leader
Dhaka, May 10 (EFE).- Bangladesh police said on Wednesday that they had arrested a top commander of the Myanmar-based rebel group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, who is accused of murders and other crimes in the Rohingya refugee camps in the country.
The commander of the local armed police battalion unit, Amir Jafar, told reporters at a press conference in the southeastern Cox’s Bazar district – where the Rohingya refugee camps are situated – that they arrested ARSA commander Hafez Zobair from the district headquarters on Tuesday night, acting on a tip-off.
“We had information he was staying in the Cox’s Bazar town. Based on that, our special forces conducted a raid and arrested Zobair near the bus stand,” he said.
Jafar said that the ARSA commander had confessed to the police his involvement in killings and illegal arms supply, after he was taken to the camp following his arrest.
Police recovered several arms, including four single-shot guns and 32 bullets, based on Zobair’s information.
In a statement issued later, the battalion said that Zobair is a top criminal and was wanted in at least four murder cases. The police were in the process of filing two more cases against him, it added.
The armed police battalion – which is responsible for the security of the Rohingya camps – said that they had arrested a total of 58 people accused in 26 murder cases between Feb. 14 and May 10.
The ARSA is suspected of being behind a rising number of crimes that have occurred recently in the camps, including murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking.
The group allegedly carried out a series of attacks against security forces in 2017 in Myanmar’s southern Rakhine province, following which the army launched a brutal retaliatory campaign that led to around 774,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh.
Leaders of other Rohingya groups have alleged that the ARSA has ramped up crime in the camps – including the murder of several community leaders – to block the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar. EFE