Myanmar’s Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing accused Rohingya people of escalating the crisis in the Rakhine state, BBC reported on Monday. Thousands of people have fled the violence-hit region and crossed over into Bangladesh territory. In a Facebook post on Saturday, the top Army official said the Rohingya Muslim people had “never been an ethnic group”.

Myanmar has refuted concerns expressed by the United Nations about a possible ethnic cleansing. The officials have said they are only responding to militant attacks. The general referred to members of the community as “extremist Bengalis” who he said were trying to establish a stronghold in Buthidaung and Maungtaw.

Meanwhile, an unidentified Rohingya Muslim said Rakhine Buddhists had threatened to kill them, Al Jazeera reported. “Leave or we will kill you all,” the refugees were reportedly told.

The UN on Saturday said a total of 4,09,000 Rohingya Muslims had entered Bangladesh since violence erupted in Rakhine state on August 25. The influx has overwhelmed Bangladesh’s border town Cox’s Bazar where 3,00,000 people had already taken shelter at camps.

On September 13, the Myanmar government had said that its de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not attend the UN General Assembly this month. The decision followed the global criticism Suu Kyi faced over her handling of the Rohingya Muslims crisis.

The Rohingya crisis

Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, and are classified as illegal immigrants, despite them claiming roots going back centuries in the country. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. The country’s de-facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than 10 lakh stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.