Escalating violence seen at Rohingya settlements where gangs try to assert control over drug trafficking and intimidate the refugees' civilian leadership.

A senior officer of an elite police unit tasked with security in the camps blamed the killings on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group fighting the military in Myanmar.
A senior officer of an elite police unit tasked with security in the camps blamed the killings on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group fighting the military in Myanmar. (AP)

A mob of a dozen people have hacked to death two Rohingya community leaders in Bangladesh, as security worsens in camps housing almost a million refugees.

Police spokesman Faruk Ahmed said two Rohingya refugee camp leaders were killed late on Saturday at Camp 13, calling it one of the worst attacks in recent months.

"More than a dozen Rohingya miscreants hacked Maulvi Mohammad Yunus, 38, who is the head majhi of Camp 13. They also killed Mohammad Anwar, 38, another majhi. Yunus died on the spot and Amwar died at a hospital," he said.

"Majhi" is a term for a Rohingya camp leader.

A senior officer of an elite police unit tasked with security in the camps blamed the killings on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an insurgent group fighting the military in Myanmar.

"These are targeted killings by ARSA. The internal clashes in Myanmar are impacting the security situation in the camps," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

READ MORE: Scores of Rohingya arrested in Bangladesh over murder of community leader

Turf wars, ARSA

Bangladesh has been housing Rohingya refugees in a vast sprawl of camps since they fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that is now the subject of a genocide investigation at the UN's top court.

The squalid settlements have seen escalating violence in recent months, with gangs trying to assert control over drug trafficking and intimidate the refugees' civilian leadership through killings and abductions.

Gangs have long fought turf wars for control of the drug trade, centred on yaba methamphetamine pills, but the police chief of the Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar said there was an escalation taking place.

"In the last three months alone, at least 14 Rohingyas were murdered in the camps. The number of murders in the camp has increased compared to last year," Mahfuzul Islam said.

Several of its members earlier this year were charged over the murder of top Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah in September last year. ARSA has denied its involvement.

The killing of Ullah, who had been received at the White House by then-president Donald Trump, sparked a major crackdown by Bangladeshi authorities, with at least 8,000 suspected ARSA members arrested.

READ MORE: Rohingya rights activist shot dead in Bangladesh refugee camp

Source: AFP