Indonesian fishermen rescue Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar

An ethnic-Rohingya man, center, is assisted by a paramedic after a group of Rohingya Muslims was brought ashore in Bireuen, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesian fishermen rescued dozens of Rohingya Muslims from a boat stranded off Aceh province on Friday, police said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
An ethnic-Rohingya man receives medical treatment inside an ambulance as he and his group were brought ashore in Bireuen, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesian fishermen rescued dozens of Rohingya Muslims from a boat stranded off Aceh province on Friday, police said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
An Acehnese woman uses her mobile phone to take pictures of the boat carrying a group of ethnic-Rohingya that was brought ashore in Bireuen, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesian fishermen rescued dozens of Rohingya Muslims from the boat stranded off Aceh province on Friday, police said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
Ethnic-Rohingya women rest at a temporary shelter in Bireuen, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesian fishermen rescued dozens of Rohingya Muslims from a boat stranded off Aceh province on Friday, police said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea. (AP Photo/Zik Maulana)
Ethnic-Rohingya men line up to enter a temporary shelter in Bireuen, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesian fishermen rescued dozens of Rohingya Muslims from a boat stranded off Aceh province on Friday, police said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea. (AP Photo/Rahmat Mirza)

BIREUEN, Indonesia — Indonesian fishermen rescued 76 Rohingya Muslims stranded off the coast of Aceh on Friday, authorities said, in the latest attempt by members of the persecuted ethnic group to flee Myanmar by sea.

Tthe group of eight children, 25 women and 43 men was brought ashore in their wooden boat Friday afternoon. It was unclear how long they had been at sea, said Riza Yulianto, the police chief of Bireuen regency in Aceh on the island of Sumatra.

Aceh's Disaster Mitigation Agency said the Rohingya told local authorities that they wanted to reach Australia.

The agency said it was coordinating with the local government to provide temporary shelter. It said seven people were given medical treatment.

Officials were interviewing the refugees, and villagers had donated clothes and food, said Hidayatullah from the local civic group Rapid Response Action.

Hidayatullah, who uses one name, said fisherman went to the aid of the Rohingya after seeing the boat at about 2 p.m. Its sail wasn't working, he said.

Myanmar's persecution of its Rohingya Muslim minority has sparked an exodus of some 700,000 refugees over land into neighboring Bangladesh since August. Some have also tried to flee by boat. Myanmar's military said it was carrying out counterinsurgency operations.

An Indonesian fishing boat rescued a group of five Rohingya in weak condition off westernmost Aceh province on April 6, after a 20-day voyage in which five other people died.

Just days before, Malaysian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 56 people believed to be Rohingya refugees and brought the vessel and its passengers to shore.

Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year until security in Myanmar was tightened after a surge of refugees in 2015 caused regional concern.

The International Organization for Migration said the Indonesian government had asked it to send a team from its Medan office in Sumatra, including Rohingya interpreters, to help local officials with humanitarian assistance.

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