x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Myanmar riots between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists return, 3 dead

Fresh clashes between Muslims and Buddhists have broken out in western Myanmar, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds of homes burnt to the ground, authorities said yesterday.

YANGON // Fresh clashes between Muslims and Buddhists have broken out in western Myanmar, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds of homes burnt to the ground, authorities say.

The riots, which erupted on Sunday night, were some of the worst reported between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists since skirmishes swept the region in June, and displaced 70,000 people.

The Rakhine state attorney general, Hla Thein, said the latest clashes took place in Minbyar township, 25 kilometres north of the state capital, Sittwe. They later spread north to Mrauk-U township.

Sunday's riots killed one Buddhist man and two Muslim women, Hla Thein said. More than 340 homes, most made of wood, were also destroyed in arson attacks.

Authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the townships on Monday and both areas were calm yesterday, Hla Thein said.

The new violence comes after the two communities turned on each other across Rakhine state in June after the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men in late May.

Those clashes left at least 90 people dead and more than 3,000 homes destroyed, along with dozens of mosques and monasteries.

The two communities are almost now completely segregated in towns such as Sittwe, where the Rakhine are able to roam freely while the Rohingya are mostly confined to a series of displaced camps.

The last serious clashes in Rakhine state took place in August, when government officials said seven people were killed in the town of Kyauktaw.

Saudi Arabia blamed the Myanmar authorities for the violence in August. The Saudi cabinet said it "condemns the ethnic-cleansing campaign and brutal attacks against Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya citizens, as well as violation of human rights by forcing them to leave their homeland".

The Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has proposed sending an OIC mission to investigate the violence. This month, Buddhists held protests against the opening of an OIC mission in Myanmar.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse