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Myanmar announces end to security operations in Rakhine state

The government said the situation is stabilized, although advocacy groups have criticized the crackdown against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority.

By Ed Adamczyk
Myanmar announces end to security operations in Rakhine state
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar state counselor, addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 21. The Myanmar government announced Thursday that its counterinsurgency campaign in Rakhine state, in which the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority group has been singled out for what advocacy group call excessive abuse, is over. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A four-month counterinsurgency in Myanmar, in which government troops are accused of rape, murder and other abuses, is over, an official said Thursday.

The situation in Rakhine state, home to about 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, is stabilized, the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi announced in state-run newspapers Thursday.

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The government said at least 106 people, including 76 "attackers," died, and more than 600 were detained after security forces began operations in the wake of the October deaths of nine police officers at the hands of a gang.

International advocacy groups, including the United Nations, have accused the government of a crackdown against the Rohingya ethnic minority group. U.N. estimates indicate hundreds have been killed, about 66,000 Rohingya entered neighboring Bangladesh and about 22,000 are displaced within Myanmar. Security forces are accused of mass gang rapes, killings of several hundred people, beatings, disappearances and burning of villages, a recent U.N. report noted.

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"The clearance operations undertaken by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased," Thaung Tun, national security adviser, said in a statement, "and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace."

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He did not explain why the government decided to end the crackdown, or if the global outcry regarding the Rohingya's plight was a factor. While Thaung added that the government is "ready to act where there is clear evidence of abuses," numerous reports of abuses have gone uninvestigated or were rejected after government examinations, Iran's Press TV reported Thursday. It added that Aung San Su Kyi, de facto leader of Myanmar's government and Nobel Peace prize awardee, has said little regarding the Rohingya and has led investigations which rejected claims of abuse by government security forces.

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