Satellite data accessed by a rights body shows widespread fires burning in at least 10 areas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, following a military crackdown on the country’s Muslim Rohingya population.
Residents and activists have have accused soldiers of shooting indiscriminately at unarmed Rohingya men, women and children and carrying out arson attacks.
However, authorities in Myanmar say close to 100 people have been killed since Friday when armed men, reportedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), launched a pre-dawn raid on police outposts in the restive region.
Myanmar authorities say Rohingya “extremist terrorists” have been setting the fires during fighting with government troops, while Rohingya have blamed soldiers, who have been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings.
A government spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.
“The Burmese government should grant access to independent monitors to determine the sources of fires and assess allegations of human rights violations,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on Tuesday.
HRW said fires have razed 100km of land – an area larger than that burned during a crackdown by the Myanmar military following attacks by Rohingya fighters in October 2016, when data from the group suggested some 1,500 buildings were destroyed.