A loud cry echoed through the hospital corridors as 20-year-old Ilias, a Rohingya man, screamed from the pain of his gunshot wounds.
He kept calling out for his parents. Ayaz, his elder brother tried to calm him down. Ayaz said that they had fled the trouble-torn Rakhine area last week, and the current whereabouts of his loved ones remained unknown to him. Ilias’s maternal uncle Hamid Hossain watched his nephew anxiously.
When the Dhaka Tribune asked his uncle Hamid Hossain how Ilias was shot, he narrated a horrific tale of atrocities happening in the Rakhine State, North-West Myanmar, where government troops say they are hunting militants.
“It was 3am on Thursday. Ilias and his cousins were asleep near their fishing nets on the river bank when, all of a sudden, gunshots woke them up. When they went to see what was going on, Ilias was shot in the head while three others managed to escape.”
On Sunday the Dhaka Tribune went to the Neurosurgery Department of Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) where several Rohingyas, including two young boys were undergoing treatment for gunshot injuries. The Rohingyas told consistent stories of troops firing on Rohingya families and setting houses on fire.
According to Hamid, who is also a resident of Nachidong area of Maungdaw in Rakhine, the Myanmar Army raided their village on Thursday night, shooting a number of his neighbours.
Also Read- Sounds of gunfire from across the border
Ilias, badly hurt, was later rescued by his three cousins who brought him to the border. They managed to cross the border at 7am with the help of agents.
After receiving primary treatment at a clinic run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar, the bullet-hit youth was then brought to the CMCH early Sunday.
When asked how they managed to sneak across the border, Hamid said, “There are some middlemen on both sides of the border who help cross frontiers on a contract basis.”
“The amount is not fixed and it depends on the patrolling border guards. If you are lucky, you can cross the border paying only Tk500-1,000.”
“Ilias was admitted in a critical state. A CT scan found a haemorrhage in his brain,” said the on-duty physician.
Idris, a 10-year-old boy, sustained injuries when a stray bullet hit him in the head.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, his father Md Rashid, said: “My son was playing, when all of sudden a stray bullet hit him in the head.”
A bullet penetrated the throat of a 12-year-old Rohingya boy, Mobarak, who was also undergoing treatment at the Neurosurgery unit of CMCH.
Also Read- Myanmar army conducts clearance operations in Rakhine
Requesting anonymity, the on-duty doctor of the Neurosurgery Department told this correspondent that the bullet tore Mobarak’s vocal cord, rendering him unable to speak.
“To make matters worse, the boy cannot move his legs either. We are keeping a close watch on him.”
As of Monday evening, a total of nineteen Rohingyas are being treated at CMCH. Among the nineteen, five were victims of arson attacks and bomb blasts.
Another three with gunshot wounds were admitted to CMCH at 3pm on Monday. Among them, 20-year-old Jannatullah was in critical condition, doctors said.
The crackdown on Rohingyas started after insurgents wielding guns, sticks and homemade bombs attacked 30 police posts and an army base, in the border state of Rakhine, taking the death toll to 104 people. A large number of Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist civilians have fled across the border to Bangladesh, according to Reuters.