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Myanmar: 84 Muslims killed by Buddhists in western Myanmar



The death toll from last week’s sectarian violence between Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities in western Myanmar has reached 84 with 129 injured, state media reported Monday.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said 2,950 houses, 14 religious buildings and eight rice mills were burned down.

An earlier official estimate set the death toll at 67 while residents and a Muslim party leader in the state capital, Sittwe, about 500 kilometres north-west of Yangon, had placed it at more than 100.

Last week’s unrest was reportedly sparked by protests against a lack of access to food and international aid in the state’s northern townships, which have been under curfews since June.

Tens of thousands have been displaced since sectarian violence broke out that month after a Buddhist woman was allegedly raped and murdered by three members of the Rohingya Muslim community.

Monday’s newspaper report said authorities have taken “legal action” against 1,058 people since the start of the clashes.

Ashok Nigam, humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations, said at least 22,500 people had been displaced and over 4,600 houses burnt in last week’s violence, which was concentrated in the three northern townships of the Rakhine, after visiting the area at the weekend.

There are already an estimated 75,000 people living in refugee camps as a result of June’s clashes, which left up to 90 dead.

But the latest violence has prompted the government to allow the UN greater access to the affected townships to distribute tents, food and other emergency aid, according to UN sources.

President Thein Sein on October 21 said it was necessary to allow international aid to the townships, where the population is mostly Muslim, despite objections from Buddhist groups.

Turkey was to donate aid to the refugee camps in Rakhine State, most of which are in Sittwe, where the population is half Buddhist and half Muslim, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

Border Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Thein Htay over the weekend met with Turkish Ambassador to Myanmar Murat Yavuz Ates to discuss the distribution of the aid, the report said.

The camps have been receiving limited aid from the UN and French aid organization Medicins Sans Frontieres since June.

Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist. The Rohingya, most of whom have lived in Rakhine for generations, are mainly descendents of labourers brought in from neighbouring Bangladesh during the British colonial era.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingya live in the state’s three northern townships. They are not considered one of the country’s official minorities, nor eligible for citizenship under the 1982 Citizens Law.

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