HONG KONG — More than 70 people were killed on Friday in clashes between militants and security forces in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, which outside observers called a worrying upsurge of violence in the troubled region.
The dead included at least 12 members of the security forces and at least 59 Rohingya insurgents, according to a statement from the office of Myanmar’s de facto leader, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar’s armed forces said the militants used knives, small arms and explosives in coordinated early morning attacks on several police and military posts around Buthidaung and Maungdaw, near Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh.
Rakhine is home to about one million Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority group that faces repression in Myanmar, where they are largely confined to camps and denied full citizenship rights.
Last October, a group of Rohingya militants killed nine police officers, escalating the level of violence in a long-running conflict. Rohingya and international human rights groups say security forces responded to those attacks by locking down the area and carrying out a far-reaching crackdown, killing hundreds of people and forcing tens of thousands e to flee.
This week, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was formed last year by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and headed by Kofi Annan, a former secretary general of the United Nations, submitted its final report. It called for urgent action to improve the citizenship status, freedom of movement and human rights of Muslims in Rakhine. Failure to act would risk further “violence and radicalization,” Mr. Annan wrote in an introduction to the report.