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Bangladesh sends back Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, June 16 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh turned away three boats carrying 1,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, bringing to 1,500 the number of refugees blocked in recent days.

"They have been chased away," police official Jahangir Alam said by phone from Saint Martins Island in the Bay of Bengal after the three boats attempted to approach the shore of the island. "We are keeping our eyes open so that nobody can enter Bangladesh illegally."

Violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims in western Myanmar have left at least 12 people dead and hundreds of homes burned since Friday. Bangladesh earlier said it sent back 11 boats with about 500 Rohingya Muslims aboard in the past three days.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said at a news conference in the capital, Dhaka, that it was not in Bangladesh's interest to accept any refugees because the impoverished country's resources already are strained.