x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Violence between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists in Myanmar spreads

Clashes between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists engulfed the townships of Kyaukphyu and Myebon on Tuesday, Myo Thant, the Rakhine state spokesman, said.

YANGON // Skirmishes between Muslims and Buddhists in western Myanmar spread to two new districts where authorities are struggling to douse flames from burning homes, the government said yesterday.

Clashes between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists engulfed the townships of Kyaukphyu and Myebon on Tuesday, Myo Thant, the Rakhine state spokesman, said.

The unrest is some of the worst reported in the region since violence swept the area in June after the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men in late May.

The skirmishes this week began Sunday in Minbyar and Mrauk-U districts, both located north of the regional capital, Sittwe. The government says up to three people were killed and more than 1,000 homes burned down.

Myo Thant said fighting began on Tuesday in Kyaukphyu and Myebon and continued yesterday.

Saudi Arabia has blamed authorities in Myanmar for the violence against the Rohingya in the past. The Saudi cabinet said in August 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".

There were Buddhist-led protests yesterday as more than 800 university students rallied against Muslims in Sittwe. The students called for an end to "studying with terrorist Bengalis".

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse