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Renewed Myanmar violence leaves 60 including 31 women dead

Friday October 26, 2012 09:29:22 AM, Agencies

Yangon: Hundreds of homes burned and gunfire rang out as sectarian violence raged for a fifth day between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in western Myanmar on Thursday, pushing the death toll to nearly 60 and testing the country’s nascent democracy, reported AFP.


Win Myaing, information officer of Rakhine State government, told Reuters that 56 people, including 31 women, had died and 64 had been wounded as of Wednesday evening.

Access to Rakhine State was restricted and information hard to verify, but witnesses said at least three more people were killed on Thursday.

A statement from the president’s office read on state television spoke of only 12 people dead as of Wednesday and said 1,948 houses and eight religious buildings had been destroyed.

It said the international community was watching Myanmar and the violence was against the interests of the nation.

“Therefore, the police and the army in cooperation with the people will take effective measures to ensure the rule of law, community peace and tranquillity,” it said.


Some 1,900 homes and eight religious buildings were destroyed in arson fire in Myaebon, Mrauk U, Kyauk Phyu and Minbya townships of Rakhine state.

Authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Minbya and Mrauk U towns since Monday night, as riots escalated there, Xinhua reported.

The government has vowed to punish those fanning the violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists.

The United Nations called for calm, saying large numbers of people were reported to be seeking refuge in already overcrowded camps near the state capital, Sittwe.

“The UN is gravely concerned about reports of a resurgence of inter-communal conflict in several areas in Rakhine State which has resulted in deaths and has forced thousands of people, including women and children, to flee their homes,” Ashok Nigam, UN humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, said in a statement.


Rights groups such as Amnesty International have called on Myanmar to amend or repeal a 1982 citizenship law to end the Rohingyas’ stateless condition.

In Washington, the State Department urged Myanmar to grant full humanitarian access to the affected areas, launch a dialogue aimed at reconciliation, and op en investigations into the violence.

“We join the international community and call on authorities within the country, including the government, civil and religious leaders to take immediate action to halt the ongoing violence,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

The Rakhine state has been on high alert following similar violence during May-June, when some 80 people died, and over 2,000 houses and religious buildings were burnt down.





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