Rohingya suspect ARSA behind fire at Cox’s Bazar Ukhiya camp

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News Desk

Some Rohingya at the Balukhali Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya believe the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) could have masterminded the devastating fire that swept through the camp.

While the shanties in Block-D were burning, some ‘unidentified people’ were seen setting fire to Block-C shanties and fleeing the scene by melding into the panicked crowd, said Johura Begum, a 48-year-old Rohingya woman.

“Those who set fire to the camp were not residents but outsiders. They torched Abdul Hamid’s house in Block-C and fled the scene quickly,” Johura said, adding she saw them ‘fleeing immediately’ after setting the fire.

Local Rohingya in Balukhali Shelter Camp 11 termed the devastating fire on Sunday as ‘planned’ and claimed the ARSA, an armed insurgent group from Myanmar, set the camp on fire.

Md Iliyas, a resident of Block-D, also held the ARSA responsible for the ‘planned’ fire, reports

“ARSA member Ehsan and two to three other people threatened to harm the Rohingya in the camp. They fired blanks and torched Abdul Hamid’s house,” he said.

“Had it been an accident, the fire would not have broken out a minute after that incident [of threatening people],” he said.

The fire incident could be a result of the conflict between ARSA and another armed group of Myanmar ROS, Iliyas said.

A Rohingya suspect was arrested on the same day of the fire incident, said Mohammad Mizanur Rahman refugee, relief, and repatriation commissioner.

The 14 Armed Police Battalion (APBN) and Ukhiya police, however, said they did not have any information about the arrestee.

Cox’s Bazar administration, however, said they can determine whether the incident was sabotage or an accident after an investigation is complete.

On Sunday, fire erupted at Block B of the Balukhali camp and soon spread to other blocks. As many as 11 Fire Service and Civil Defence units tamed the blaze nearly three hours after it broke out. The fire burned down more than 2,000 huts, home to around 12,000 Rohingya.

A seven-strong committee led by Additional District Executive Magistrate Md Abu Sufian was formed the next day to probe the incident. The committee will submit its report in three working days.

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