Nearly 400 people have died in battles that rocked northwest Myanmar for a week in the worst wave of violence likely to include the Muslim Rohingya minority for decades, according to new official data.
Some 38,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar to Bangladesh, a week after attacks by Rohingya gunmen on police positions and an army base in Rakhine state, leading to clashes and a counter-military campaign, UN sources said.
"It is estimated that 38,000 crossed the border into Bangladesh until August 31," officials said Friday.
The army says it is carrying out purges against "extremist terrorists" and the security forces have been instructed to protect civilians. But the Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh say a burning and murder campaign is aimed at expelling them.
The treatment of about 1.1 million Rohingyas in Myanmar is the biggest challenge to Aung San Suu Kyi, a leader of the country, whom critics in the West accuse of not defending the rights of a minority that has long complained of discrimination.
The Myanmar army said Thursday that the clashes and subsequent military campaign killed about 370 Rohingya fighters, 13 security forces, two government officials and 14 civilians.