(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - At least 12 Rohingya Muslim refugees, mainly children, drowned when their boats capsized on the way to Bangladesh, police said on Monday, the latest victims of violence in Myanmar that has forced more than half a million people from their homes.
The boat sank near Shah Porir Dwip, on the southern tip of Bangladesh, late on Sunday, Bangladesh authorities said.
It was not known how many people were on board but the boats operated by fishermen often cram in dozens of desperate Rohingya fleeing a Myanmar security operation that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.
Bangladeshi police officer Mohammed Mainuddin told Reuters that 12 bodies - 10 children, one woman and a man - had been recovered.
A Reuters photographer earlier saw the bodies of four children, two women and a man washed up on a beach.
Authorities said earlier at least eight people had been rescued.
Some 519,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants on police and military posts in Rakhine State sparked a ferocious response from Myanmar's security forces.
Myanmar rejects accusations of ethnic cleansing and has labeled the militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, who launched the initial attacks, as terrorists.
The insurgents declared a one-month ceasefire from September 10, which is due to end at midnight on Monday.