COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims were trying to cross from Myanmar into Bangladesh on Saturday, following an attack by Rohingya militants in western Myanmar that left 89 people dead in a dramatic escalation of communal violence that has plagued the region.

The militants launched the attacks overnight Thursday on more than two dozen police and border outposts. The office of Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said military and border police responded to the attacks — which left 12 security personnel and 77 Rohingya dead — by launching “clearance operations.”

Advocates for the Rohingya on social media have been reporting many army raids on villages, including killings and the burning down of homes. They have also posted videos they say show villagers who have fled to the mountains for safety.

The accounts, from activists who have given generally reliable information in the past, are impossible to independently verify because the government bars journalists and other outsiders from entering the region without permission.

Mohammad Nur, a Rohingya leader at an unregistered camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, told the Associated Press by phone that he had heard that some 100,000 Rohingya had gathered along the border to try to enter Bangladesh, but the number could not be confirmed.

Nurul Kabir, a Rohingya man from Buddhist-majority Myanmar, said many Rohingya started fleeing their villages on Thursday morning after Myanmar soldiers and Buddhists started entering their areas.

Kabir said he rescued a 4-year-old boy from a road on his way to the border.

“He was crying, he was alone,” he said. “I asked him where are your parents, and he was just crying. I took him and brought him with me.”

Roshida Khatun, 40, crossed into Bangladesh on Saturday morning along with more than 30 other Rohingya.

Khatun said she left behind her entire family along the border in Myanmar after she lost track of her whereabouts on Friday night. She said that she and hundreds of others started walking to reach the border after her village was attacked by Myanmar soldiers.

She reached Amtoli, a border village in Bangladesh’s Bandarban district, at around 11 a.m. Saturday after a nearly 40-hour journey.

“I have left everything behind,” Khatun said. “My husband died 11 years ago, and now I have nobody. I have lost my entire family this time.”

She said many others were still waiting to enter Bangladesh. “If they are not allowed in they will die,” she said.

Farid Alam, a Bangladeshi who lives in Amtoli village, through which many Rohingya have crossed the border, told the AP on Saturday that over last two days, at least 2,000 Rohingya had entered Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi authorities would not confirm how many had entered.