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Rohingya rebels call one-month Myanmar ceasefire as exodus grows

[COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh] Rohingya militants in Myanmar, whose raids sparked an army crackdown that has seen nearly 300,000 Muslim Rohingya flee to Bangladesh, on Sunday declared a unilateral ceasefire but the government said it would not negotiate with "terrorists".

The United Nations said 294,000 bedraggled and exhausted Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since the militants' attacks on Myanmar security forces in neighbouring Rakhine state on August 25 triggered a major military backlash.

Bangladesh's foreign minister said Sunday that "genocide" was being waged in Rakhine state.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya are believed to be on the move inside Rakhine after more than a fortnight without shelter, food and water.

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"The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) hereby declares a temporary cessation of offensive military operations," the militant group said in a statement on its Twitter account.

It urged "all humanitarian actors" to resume aid delivery to "all victims of humanitarian crisis irrespective of ethnic or religious background" during the one-month ceasefire until October 9.

International aid programmes in Rakhine have been severely curtailed over safety concerns due to the fighting.

In addition to Rohingya, some 27,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Hindus have also fled violence in northern Rakhine.

ARSA called on Myanmar to "reciprocate this humanitarian pause" in fighting.

Myanmar, which has previously labelled ARSA as "terrorists", appeared to reject the overture.

"We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists," Zaw Htay, a senior government spokesman, tweeted late Sunday.

Aung San Suu Kyi's government has come in for strong international criticism over the military's treatment of the Rohingya - including the alleged laying of mines along the border to prevent those who fled from returning.

Three Rohingya are reported to have been killed by a mine and others including children have been injured.

Rohingya refugees say army operations against ARSA led to mass killing of civilians and the burning of villages, sending them across the border.

AFP