New communal violence reported in Myanmar
- Published: 24/10/2012 at 02:58 AM
- Online news:
YANGON : Three people have been killed in a fresh outbreak of communal violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, a local official said on Tuesday.
The clashes laid bare festering tensions after widespread violence in June left dozens dead, tens of thousands displaced and prompted rights groups to warn of a humanitarian crisis.
"We got the information that three people, an ethic Rakhine man and two Muslim women, were killed at Pandeinkone village during yesterday's (Monday's) clashes," Hla Thein, Rakhine State chief justice told AFP.
"It's difficult to control the situation," he said, adding that there was no information on the number of wounded.
Hundreds of homes were also torched in the unrest that affected two neighbouring villages, he said, while police said an overnight curfew failed to prevent violence continuing for a second day.
"The two villages were very close. More than 300 houses were burnt down," said Hla Thein.
More than 50,000 Muslims and up to 10,000 Buddhists are thought to be displaced across Rakhine state, where people from both communities were forced to flee as mobs torched entire villages in June's flare-up.
The bloodshed cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
Myanmar's government has rejected accusations of abuse by security forces in Rakhine, after the United Nations raised fears of a crackdown on Muslims.
The stateless Rohingya have long been considered by the United Nations to be one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet.
Viewed as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh by the Myanmar government and many Myanmar citizens -- who call them "Bengalis" -- they face tight restrictions on their movements and limited access to employment, education and public services. Many have attempted to flee overseas in rickety boats.
In Rakhine's state capital Sittwe, thousands of Rohingya eke out a living in a ghetto behind barbed wire and armed guards, as segregation between the two communities intensifies.
Thein Sein on Sunday conceded Myanmar has no choice but to accept foreign aid for the Rohingya or face an international backlash.
"We need humanitarian assistance. If we reject the humanitarian assistance, the international community will not accept us," he told reporters in his first domestic press conference since taking office 18 months ago.
His comments followed a series of protests by Buddhists in Myanmar against efforts by a world Islamic body to help Muslims affected by the violence.