x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Myanmar death toll exceeds 100 after communal clashes

A Rakhine state spokesman said 112 people had been killed in six townships in clashes that began last Sunday between members of the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities

SITTWE, Myanmar // The death toll from recent ethnic violence in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine has surpassed 100, an official yesterday.

The government also warned that the strife risks harming the country's reputation as it seeks to install democratic rule.

Win Myaing, Rakhine state spokesman, said 112 people had been killed in six townships in clashes that began last Sunday between members of the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities. He said 72 people were reported injured, including 10 children.

The government announced earlier that almost 2,000 homes had been burnt down in the conflict.

In June, ethnic violence in the state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. About 75,000 have been living in refugee camps ever since.

A resident of another township, Ramree, said there also was violence there yesterday.

"There were some clashes between the two sides in Ramree this morning," said Kyaw Win, 30.

"Residents are very fearful of imminent attacks by the Muslim community because security presence is very little. We don't feel safe. We want the Bengalis to be moved away from the Rakhine community."

Rakhine prefer to use the term Bengali for Rohingya, whom they contend are not a distinct ethnic group.

"As the international community is closely watching Myanmar's democratic transition, such unrest could tarnish the image of the country," said a statement from the office of President Thein Sein published yesterday in the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper.

Thein Sein took office as an elected president last year, and has instituted economic and political liberalisation after almost half a century of repressive military rule.

"The army, police and authorities in cooperation with local people will try to restore peace and stability and will take legal action against any individual or organisation that is trying to instigate the unrest," the statement warned.

Associated Press