By Kyaw Ye Lynn
Security forces have killed three Rohingya men during a raid on "terrorist training camps" in western Rakhine state, state media reported Thursday.
Global New Light of Myanmar daily said soldiers and police discovered evidence over the past two days of a tunnel in the Mayu Mountains being allegedly used by Rohingya militants in the Maungdaw area near Myanmar's western border with Bangladesh.
One man was killed on Tuesday, while the other two were killed on Wednesday during a two-day area clearance operation, the daily said, citing a statement from the Office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Also on Tuesday, security forces raided the village of Kyungaung at around 1 a.m (1830GMT Monday), and arrested Mawlawi Jirabhuman, in charge of finance of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), at his residence, the statement said, adding an investigation was underway.
According to Jirabhuman, the October 2016 attacks on three police stations on the border with Bangladesh, which left nine officers dead, were carried out by Aqua Mul Mujahidin (AMM), the daily said, adding back on March 15, Aqua Mul Mujahidan united with Rohingya National Security Committee (RNSA) to form ARSA.
The government accuses the militant group of murdering 34 civilians and kidnapping 22 others, mostly Rohingya civilians, who collaborated with local authority since October attacks.
ARSA has refuted accusations that it conducts killings or any forms of terrorism against the civilians.
In a statement on May 30 -- the second such announcement since it was formed last October -- the group said it had never attacked or killed any civilians as it was claimed in numerous "false news stories" as well as information circulated by Myanmar government and military.
"We do not commit any form of terrorism against any civilians regardless of their religious and ethnic origin as we do not subscribe to the notion of committing terrorism for our legitimate cause," the group said.
The statement, which bore the group’s crossed Armalite rifle logo and signed by its leader Ata Ullah, was disseminated through several Rohingya activists, but Anadolu Agency was unable to verify the origin of the statement.
"We assure the safety and well-being of all ethnic communities, their places of worship and properties in Arakan state," it said, referring to one of Myanmar's poorest states which is also called Rakhine.
The state is home to approximately 1.2 million Rohingya, who have long been officially labeled as "Bengali" -- a term suggesting they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh -- and denied citizenship.
The government has labelled ARSA a terrorist organization and said Ullah was trained by the Taliban and has links to foreign terror groups.
ARSA, however, denied any ties to terror group, adding its defensive attacks had "only been aimed at the oppressive Burmese regime in accordance with international norms and principles until their demands are fulfilled".
The group claimed responsibility for the killing of the nine police officers last October which prompted a brutal crackdown by government security forces on civilians in the area near the border with Bangladesh.
During the crackdown, the United Nations and rights groups documented widespread abuses by security forces such as killings -- including the deaths of children and babies -- gang rapes, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.