Indonesian police reject Rohingya sex assault claims

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Indonesian police on Saturday rejected allegations several Rohingya women were sexually assaulted by local men outside a migrant camp in Aceh province.

Four Rohingya women, aged from 14 to 28, had said they were sexually assaulted by a group of men on Monday evening shortly after sneaking away from the camp, housing members of the Myanmar minority who had arrived as migrants by boat. The women had been with three children and two men.

Lhokseumawe police chief Anang Triarsono said the medical examinations performed on three of the Rohingya women found no trace of sexual assault.

The fourth woman was not examined because she later admitted she had not been sexually assaulted.

"We still have not learned the reason why they claimed to have been raped and sexually assaulted because we are still concerned with their psychological state as refugees," Triansono told AFP Saturday.

Triansono said the police suspected the women made the false claim after they were caught trying to leave the camp for neighbouring Malaysia, the favoured destination for many of the region's migrants.

Migrants are allowed to venture outside the camp but only to nearby villages. If they want to go further afield they must obtain permission from the authorities.

Hundreds of Rohingya, a Muslim group which has long suffered persecution in Buddhist majority Myanmar, have been languishing in the camp since they came ashore in May.

The regional migrant crisis erupted earlier this year when a Thai crackdown on the lucrative smuggling industry prompted traffickers to abandon their human cargo of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants at sea.

Aceh, a staunchly Islamic province, has generally been welcoming to the Muslim Rohingya.

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