Bangladeshi police shot dead two suspected Rohingya human traffickers, officials said on Wednesday May 15th, after spending two days rescuing 103 refugees who were about to make the perilous sea voyage to Malaysia.
The two Rohingya men were killed on Tuesday evening outside a refugee camp in the southeast, according to Prodip Kumar Das, police chief of Teknaf, which borders Myanmar.
"They opened fire at the police. We fired back in retaliation," he told AFP.
Evidently, this is the first time in four years suspected human traffickers were killed in a gunfight in Bangladesh's southeast, an area which has seen a rise in attempted human smuggling of Rohingya in the last few months.
In recent years, people-smugglers have sent tens of thousands of Rohingya from the Bangladesh camps via boat to relatively prosperous Malaysia, usually between November and April when the seas are calmer.
However, in 2015 the route was disrupted when a Bangladeshi crackdown killed dozens of top traffickers, after a discovery by Thai authorities of mass graves and overcrowded boats drifting at sea.
Officials say that now the traffickers are back and preying on the camps where 740,000 Rohingya took shelter in 2017, fleeing a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar.