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Bangladesh nabs Buddhist charity chief over Myanmar violence

Rohingya Muslim refugees build makeshift shelters at Balukhali refugee camp near Ukhia, Bangladesh, on October 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A prominent Buddhist, who heads a charity that operates in Myanmar's violence-hit Rakhine state, has been arrested by Bangladeshi authorities on terror charges.

Police said on Wednesday that 67-year-old U Chit Maung was arrested at Dhaka's international airport last week as he tried to board a flight to Myanmar.

Police added that Maung, the head of the Rakhaing Development Foundation, had been detained after allegedly suspicious images were found on his laptop.

"The RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) arrested him over anti-terrorism charges last week from the airport and handed him to us," airport police chief Noor-e-Azam Mia said, without elaborating on the charges.

Bangladesh is dealing with over 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have flooded across the border since August 25, when the military in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar launched a crackdown on the Muslims in Rakhine state.

Many of those fleeing Myanmar have recounted harrowing tales of rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar's forces and Buddhist mobs.

The UN has said the violent crackdown by Myanmar’s army could amount to ethnic cleansing.

Rohingya refugees who were stranded walk near the no man's land area between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Palongkhali area next to Ukhia on October 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Maung's sister Ayethein Rakhaing described the charges against her brother as false, saying he was innocent.

"He works for both the Muslims and Buddhists. He works there (Rakhine) for peace," Rakhaing, a former lawmaker from the ruling Awami League, said.

Maung's wife Mra Raza Linn lives in Myanmar. She was a senior rebel leader turned peace activist in Myanmar, the arrestee's family said.

"She is known to Aung San Suu Kyi," a family member said, referring to Myanmar's de facto leader.

The relative further said Linn presides a women's group in Rakhine and is a prominent member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), while she used to be a guerrilla leader.

A Bangladeshi security official said the ALP political party has been anti-Rohingya in recent years.

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