At least five Rohingya Muslim children have drowned while on boats fleeing an escalation of violence in Myanmar, which has forced thousands of members of the persecuted minority to seek refuge across the border in neighboring Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi border guards said several boats transporting Rohingya refugees sank during the early hours of Wednesday.
"So far, the bodies of five male and female children have been found at different locations," Border Guard Bangladesh officer Alyosius Sangma said.
Also on Wednesday, two government sources in Bangladesh told Reuters that Myanmar's forces had been “putting landmines in their territory along the barbed-wire fence” between a series of border pillars over the past three days.
The sources, who had direct knowledge of the situation, said Myanmar was probably putting the landmines to prevent the return of the Rohingya who have already fled to Bangladesh.
The latest eruption of violence in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine has killed more than 400 people and triggered an exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh.
According to the latest figures by the United Nations, nearly 125,000 refugees from Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh since violence escalated in late August, overwhelming existing camps for the displaced.
Human Rights Watch earlier said satellite imagery showed 700 buildings were burned in the Rohingya village of Chein Khar Li, just one of the 17 locations in Rakhine where the rights group has documented burning of homes and property.
Myanmar’s government brands more than one million Rohingya Muslims in the country as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims, however, have had roots in the country that go back centuries. They are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”
There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of summary executions, rapes, and arson attacks by the military since the crackdown against the minority group began.
The UN believes the government of Myanmar might have committed ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in its crackdown.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are facing a risk of ethnic cleansing.