A Red Cross truck carrying aid for Rohingya in Bangladesh fell into a ditch, killing nine aid workers. The incident came just hours after Buddhists in Myanmar tried to block another shipment of aid to Muslims in Rakhine.
An aid truck veered off a road and crashed in Bangladesh on Thursday, killing at least nine aid workers and injuring another 10. The truck was carrying a shipment from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for Rohingya Muslims, who have fled to Bangladesh in their hundreds of thousands in the past few weeks to escape what the United Nations described as "ethnic violence" in Myanmar.
The shipment was part of a huge relief operation launched by aid agencies to deal with the biggest Rohingya exodus in history. More than 420,000 people have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25 when an attack on border guard posts by Rohingya insurgents set off a violent military backlash.
A Bangladeshi medical administrator said that six people died on the spot near the border in the southeastern Bandarban district. Three died in hospital.
Red Cross spokeswoman Misada Saif said all of those killed were Bangladeshi workers hired to distribute food packages to 500 Rohingya families.
Saif said the truck belonged to the ICRC and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. It was operated by a supplier who has been working for the two agencies for the last couple of weeks.
Myanmar police fire warning shots
Earlier, Buddhist protesters tried to block another ICRC shipment for Rohingya Muslims in the violence-hit Rakhine state of Myanmar. The mob threw petrol bombs in the attempt to stop aid workers loading a boat with relief supplies.
The Myanmar police were forced to fire warning shots to disperse the protesters, some of whom were carrying sticks and metal bars.
A government information office confirmed that several hundred-people tried to stop a boat being loaded with about 50 tons of aid at a dock in Rakhine's state capital, Sittwe.
"People thought the aid was only for the Bengalis," the secretary of the state government, Tin Maung Swe, told Reuters, using a term that Rohingya find offensive.
The aid shipment was headed to the north of the Rakhine, the region worst affected by the ongoing violence. Communal tensions remain high there.
The Rohingya have been denied citizenship rights. They are viewed by the local authorities as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although many have been living in the region for decades, if not centuries. Myanmar's Buddhist majority is often accused of subjecting them to discrimination and violence.
ap/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)