At least five ethnic Rohingya were killed, including a child, and several injured after troops clashed with insurgents in Myanmar’s conflict-torn western state of Rakhine, a lawmaker and two residents said on Sunday.
Saturday’s fighting broke out after Arakan Army rebels attacked a military convoy passing the historic temple town of Mrauk U, the regional MP, Tun Thar Sein, and a spokesman for the armed group, Khine Thu Kha, said.
Two military spokesmen did not answer telephone calls from Reuters to seek comment, and the army did not immediately issue a statement on its website.
Khine Thu Kha, the Arakan Army spokesman, blamed government troops for the civilian casualties.
A government spokesman said he could not comment.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the details of the attack in the remote area, where journalists are barred and internet access curtailed.
Myanmar army artillery shells hit the village of Bu Ta Lone, killing four people, the Arakan Army spokesman said in a message.
The MP, a health worker who treated the injured, and a villager said at least five Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, had died. A 12-year-old boy was among them, the villager said.
Military spokesmen did not respond to phone calls from Reuters seeking additional details. A government spokesman sent a text message saying he was in a meeting.
There were conflicting accounts of the number of Rohingya injured, which ranged from six to 11, along with several members of the state’s Rakhine ethnic majority.
Rakhine is the state from which more than 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee for neighboring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in 2017 that the U.N. has said was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies committing genocide.
Several hundred thousand Rohingya remain in Myanmar, many confined to camps and villages where they are caught in the middle of fresh fighting between the military and Arakan Army, which recruits from the mostly Buddhist majority in a drive for greater autonomy from the central government.
That conflict has displaced tens of thousands and killed dozens.
Tun Thar Sein, the Mrauk U MP, said troops responded with gunfire and shelling in two villages on Saturday after rebels attacked their convoy.
“In response to that, the military started firing at suspicious locations,” he said.
A local health worker, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said three of the Rakhine ethnic majority were also injured and one woman had died of cardiac arrest.