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MAUNGDAW β€” Many abandoned houses and shops in several locations have been burnt to ashes recently in Northern Maungdaw and Buthidaung, Rakhine State, Rohingya Eye reported.

Those houses and shops belong to Rohingya who were forced out to Bangladesh by the military cleansing operation against the Muslim population of Arakan in 2017.

The locals from the neighborhood accuse the security forces of torching those villages and markets because of their doubtful movement around.

On March 31, 2020, at around 2:00 p.m. more than a hundred shops were burnt to the ground in Ngakura Market of Northern Maungdaw. After their owners were attacked and forcefully deported to Bangladesh in 2017, all the shops were left abandoned except some 20 lots.

A Sarapa (the Burmese acronym for military intelligence) office is located behind market, from where the arson started. Some eyewitnesses told Rohingya Vision that they have observed the Sarapa members and their hangers-on moving curiously around the western corner shortly before the fire broke out there.

Reportedly, as the majority of the shops belong to Rohingyas, there are also some Buddhist who have been trying in collaboration with Sarapa to move the market to the Buddhist village and build separately. This could also be the motive to this arson attack.

The next day, almost all the uninhabited houses in two hamlets of Ngar Sar Kyu Village Tract, Northern Maungdaw.

On April 29, 2020, all the uninhabited houses in four hamlets around Mee Chaung Zay (Mingi Zee) of Nothern Buthidaung were also burnt to ashes, according to the source.

In both locations security forces were seen before the burning, according locals.

β€œAs the military’s bulldozing of those villages was criticized and perhaps this may be a new tactic to seize those lands and use for military-backed projects.” said an observer from the ground.