DHAKA, Bangladesh – Four suspected members of a Rohingya group allegedly involved in kidnapping for ransom were killed in a gunfight with Bangladeshi police near the sprawling refugee camps where refugees from Myanmar live, officials said.
The gunfight took place Friday when a team of security officials was searching for the gang leader in a forest near the Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar, said police Inspector Pradeep Kumar Das.
Another inspector, Morzina Akhter, said the suspects opened fire at police, sparking the gunfight that led to their deaths. Police also recovered about 40,000 drug pills and locally made guns, he said.
According to authorities and local media reports, the gang led by Abdul Hakim has kidnapped many locals for ransom and killed those whose families failed to pay. It had allegedly abducted at least seven Bangladeshis over the last two months and killed three hostages. Hakim remains at large.
While human rights groups acknowledge there are criminal elements among some of the Rohingya refugees, they have urged authorities to thoroughly investigate such cases.
In March, police fatally shot seven suspected members of a Rohingya gang allegedly involved in drug dealing and human trafficking.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar into Bangladesh after the Buddhist-majority country’s military launched a crackdown against them in August 2017 in response to an attack by insurgents.