More than 6,500 Rohingya Muslims killed in first month of crackdown

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YANGON At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a Myanmar army crackdown on rebels in Rakhine state that began in late August, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said yesterday.

The figure is the highest estimated death toll yet of the violence that erupted on Aug 25 and triggered a massive refugee crisis, with more than 620,000 Rohingya fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh over a three-month period.

The UN and US have described the military operation as "ethnic cleansing" of the Muslim minority but have not released specific death tolls.

The group's findings come from six surveys of more than 11,426 people in Rohingya refugee camps and cover the first month after the crisis erupted.

"We met and spoke with survivors of violence in Myanmar, who are now sheltering in overcrowded and unsanitary camps in Bangladesh," said the group's medical director Sidney Wong.

"What we uncovered was staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member had died as a result of violence, and the horrific ways... they were killed or severely injured."

Gunshot wounds were the cause of death in 69 per cent of the cases, according to the aid organisation.

Another 9 per cent were reported burned alive inside houses, while 5 per cent died from fatal beatings.

For children under five, nearly 60 per cent died after being shot, MSF found.- AFP