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Bangladesh minister speaks of 'genocide' in Myanmar's Rakhine

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Dhaka (AFP)

Bangladesh's foreign minister said Sunday that genocide was being waged in Myanmar's violence-racked Rakhine state, triggering an exodus of nearly 300,000 Muslim Rohingya to his country.

"The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide," A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters after briefing diplomats in Dhaka.

Ali met Western and Arab diplomats and the heads of UN agencies based in Bangladesh to seek support for a political solution and humanitarian aid for the Rohingya.

He told the diplomats that some 300,000 of them had fled to Bangladesh in the past two weeks, taking the total number of such refugees to over 700,000.

"This is creating a huge challenge for Bangladesh in terms of providing shelter as well as other humanitarian assistance to them," a foreign ministry statement said.

At least two diplomats who attended the briefings said the minister told them as many as 3,000 people may have been killed in the latest round of violence.

The United Nations says 294,000 bedraggled and exhausted Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine on August 25 sparked a major military backlash.

Tens of thousands more are believed to be on the move inside Rakhine.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar does not recognise its stateless Muslim Rohingya community, labelling them "Bengalis" -- illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

International aid programmes in Rakhine have been severely curtailed as the fighting tore through parts of the state.

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