Sectarian clashes rock Myanmar
MYANMAR - Agence France-PresseSoldiers yesterday patrolled a riot-hit Myanmar state placed under emergency rule following a wave of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists, as the United Nations evacuated workers.
Rakhine, which is predominantly Buddhist, is home to a large number of Muslims including the Rohingya, a stateless people described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
A cycle of apparent revenge attacks has gripped the state following the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, which prompted an angry Buddhist mob to beat 10 Muslims to death earlier this month.
At least seven people have died in clashes since June 8 and 500 homes have been destroyed, according to official media, but there were fears of a higher toll.
Authorities in neighboring Bangladesh have stepped up security along the border and in refugee camps where tens of thousands of Rohingya live.
The United Nations began evacuating about 44 workers and their families from a base in Maungdaw in Rakhine state, said Ashok Nigam, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Yangon.
Thein Sein ordered the state of emergency for Rakhine state in response to unrest that saw hundreds of Buddhist villagers’ homes set ablaze and has left seven people dead. Violent attacks fuelled by “hatred and revenge based on religion and nationality” in Rakhine could spread to other parts of the country, Myanmar’s leader warned in an address to the nation.