Smoke billowed from at least three burning villages in the remote section of Rakhine state where Myanmar’s military is carrying out sweeps for militants, an AFP reporter saw on Wednesday.
The violence, which erupted six days ago after Rohingya militants staged surprise raids on police posts, has shown little sign of abating, leaving at least 110 confirmed dead and sending thousands fleeing.
The displaced include ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, thousands of whom have massed at the “zero line” border with Bangladesh which they are barred from crossing.
The bodies of two Rohingya women and two children washed up on Bangladeshi soil on Wednesday, an official there told AFP, as villagers took to rickety boats or tried to swim across a frontier river.
On Wednesday villagers in Rakhine continued to flee their homes.
A Rohingya villager near the town of Maungdaw, speaking on condition of anonymity, said residents fled his hamlet as security forces approached and torched their homes.
“Villagers are running away… where do we have to live now?” he told AFP by telephone.
It was not immediately possible to verify his account but Rohingya who have made it into Bangladesh have brought similar testimony with them.
Large fires were visible early on Wednesday from the May Yu river that cuts through the area worst hit by unrest, according to an AFP reporter travelling by boat on a Myanmar government-led trip to Maungdaw.