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Thursday 18 January 2018

Suu Kyi visits Burmese region torn by Rohingya conflict

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Sittwe, Rakhine state, on her first visit as Burma's leader to the conflict-torn region (AP)
Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Sittwe, Rakhine state, on her first visit as Burma's leader to the conflict-torn region (AP)
Rohingya Muslims carry their young children and belongings after crossing the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited the conflict-torn area of northern Rakhine state for the first time since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled the area.

It comes as her government said a repatriation plan was underway for those who left to nearby Bangladesh when violence broke out.

Ms Suu Kyi arrived in the state capital Sittwe and headed to northern Rakhine where many Rohingya villages were located.

During a 2015 election campaign, she visited southern Rakhine, where there has not been much conflict.

"The state counselor just arrived but she is heading to Maungdaw, northern Rakhine, with the state officials," said Tin Maung Swe, a deputy director of the Rakhine government, using Suu Kyi's official title.

Spokesman Zaw Htay would not release Suu Kyi's plans for the trip until later because of security concerns.

More than 600,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when Burmese security forces began what they called a "clearance operations" in response to deadly attacks on police outposts by insurgents.

The UN has said the response has been disproportionate and amounts to ethnic cleansing.

The campaign has included the burning of Rohingya villages and accusations of widespread rights violations.

Fleeing Rohingya have described arson and rape and shootings by Burmese soldiers and Buddhist mobs.

Ms Suu Kyi has come under intense criticism from the international community to do more to end the violence and condemn those responsible

AP

Press Association

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