Indonesia holds 35 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar

Indonesian police on Friday arrested 35 Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar who planned to make the treacherous sea crossing to Australia to seek asylum, a spokeswoman said.

It came the same day Rohingya being held at a detention centre on Sumatra island beat to death eight Buddhist detainees from Myanmar after being enraged by photos of recent communal violence in their homeland.

Rohingya, described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, have fled Myanmar in their thousands since Buddhist-Muslim tensions exploded in their home state of Rakhine last year.

The 35 migrants, who included 12 children, were arrested at a flat in the city of Surabaya, East Java province, for not having the necessary immigration documents to be in Indonesia, said local police chief Wiji Suwartini.

"They planned to go to Australia," she told AFP, adding that they would be sent to an immigration detention centre in the city.

An increasing number of Rohingya have been arriving on Indonesian shores, where many face long stints in detention awaiting UN assessment for refugee status.

Friday's attack at the detention centre in Belawan underscored the soaring Muslim-Buddhist tensions that have cast a shadow over political reforms in Myanmar which have brought an end to decades of authoritarian military rule.

Australia is facing a steady influx of asylum-seekers arriving by boat, many of whom use Indonesia as a transit hub, paying people-smugglers for passage on leaky wooden vessels after fleeing their home countries.

Hundreds have died making the treacherous journey over the past few years.

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