Rohingya militants condemn violence in refugee camps amid reports of killings

A Rohingya refugee walks at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
Updated 13 March 2019
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Rohingya militants condemn violence in refugee camps amid reports of killings

  • The government calls them terrorists and says sweeping military action in the western state of Rakhine was justified
  • More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar

YANGON: Myanmar’s Rohingya militants urged their followers on Wednesday to refrain from crime in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, following reports of killings and abductions attributed to the group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
ARSA, which emerged with attacks on border posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2016, is focused on winning rights for Rohingya, the mostly stateless Muslim minority long persecuted in Myanmar.
The government calls them terrorists and says sweeping military action in the western state of Rakhine, which triggered an exodus of refugees into Bangladesh, was justified.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh-based media has blamed the group for organized violence in the refugee camps, including a series of killings. The group acknowledged the violence but denied that the leadership sanctioned it.
“Those people are not only going against the Bangladesh government but are also making ARSA responsible for their own crimes,” the group said in a video statement posted on Twitter.
“And because of their activities the whole community is being defamed all over the world,” the group said.
ARSA expressed gratitude toward the Bangladesh government and urged refugees to “refrain from any wrongdoing” against authorities there, where close to a million Rohingya are living.
More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar, UN agencies say, after the insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces in August 2017, triggering an extensive military response.
Since then, the insurgents have been blamed for sporadic attacks in Rakhine State, including an ambush on a border guard post in January that wounded six.
“Our activities for our legitimate rights are ongoing against the Burmese terrorist government and its genocidal military,” the group’s statement said, adding that attacks would continue until basic rights were restored.
The Myanmar military has rejected almost all accusations of rights abuses.


Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

Horses that were being boarded in Inglewood, Neb., are moved through floodwaters to higher ground in Fremont Neb., Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 4 min 42 sec ago
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Parts of US Midwest deluged in historic deadly floods

  • Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents

CHICAGO: The US Midwest struggled Monday with historic flooding that claimed at least three lives, displaced residents and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.
Swollen waters hit much of Nebraska, as well as parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, after a major storm last week dumped snow and rain, even as melting snow was already raising the levels of area waterways.
Neighboring states could also be affected as floodwaters drain, officials said.
President Donald Trump on Monday described the floods as “devastating” and said the White House would remain in close contact with state officials.
“Our prayers are with the great people of South Dakota,” he said in one tweet.
In another aimed at Iowa residents, he said: “We support you and thank all of the first responders working long hours to help the great people of Iowa!“

The National Weather Service (NWS) described the flooding as “major” and “historic,” forecasting that it would continue across large sections of the middle of the country.
“Flood Warnings and Adviseries are scattered throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and western parts of the Ohio Valley region, with a focus in Nebraska and western Iowa,” the NWS said in an advisory.
“Farther west and north, areal flooding is also possible in the Northwest and Northern Plains as snowmelt continues over frozen ground.”
The early damage assessment total for the state of Nebraska was more than $260 million, according to emergency management officials.
Record flooding was reported in 17 locations in the state and 10 American Red Cross shelters were operating for displaced residents.
At its highest point, the Missouri River was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 meters), beating its 2011 record by more than one foot.
“Comparisons to 2011 were inevitable,” the NWS office in Iowa tweeted, “but these floods have resulted in many more rescues and widespread damage in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.”
Failing levees were blamed for flooding in numerous communities — damaging homes and businesses.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains federal levee systems, said a majority were compromised along an approximately 100-mile portion of the Missouri River in southeast Nebraska.

Hundreds of people were rescued in Nebraska, where 54 cities issued emergency declarations, as did four Native American tribal areas.
Fremont, a city of more than 25,000, was surrounded by floodwaters over the weekend and cut off from aid.
It finally received food and other emergency supplies Sunday after crews managed to clear debris and mud from a road, officials said.
Three dozen Iowa counties were under states of emergency.
Roads were closed throughout Wisconsin and more than 200 people were evacuated, according to officials.
A third of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska was overcome with floodwater, and was not expected to be dry again until Thursday.
“It’s important to understand that this is going to take weeks and months to recover so this will be a prolonged effort,” one of the base’s leaders, Kevin Humphrey, said in a statement.
Three people were reported killed.
A Nebraska farmer died Thursday, during the height of the storm, trying to rescue a motorist stranded by floodwaters, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
On the same day, 80-year-old Betty Hamernik died after being trapped by floodwaters in her home in rural Columbus, Nebraska, according to the newspaper.
Aleido Rojas Galan, 55, was killed Friday in Iowa when his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, TV station KETV said.