CAIRO - In a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence, at least three people were killed and hundreds of homes were burnt in clashes between Buddhists and ethnic-Bengali Muslims, known as Rohingya, in western Burma.
"We got the information that three people, an ethnic Rakhine man and two Muslim women, were killed at Pandeinkone village during yesterday's (Monday's) clashes," Hla Thein, Rakhine state chief justice told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, October 23."It's difficult to control the situation."
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The violence, which erupted Sunday, night, took place in Minbyar township, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the coastal state capital Sittwe and spread farther north to Mrauk-U township.
Hundreds of homes, a mosque and a monastery were also torched in the unrest that affected two neighboring villages.
An overnight curfew failed to prevent violence continuing for a second day.
"The conflict between the two communities is happening again this morning," a police official said requesting anonymity.
About 50 houses were burnt down this morning at a village in Mrauk U town, he added.
A state of emergency was declared in two townships, with the state's prime minister instructing that medical teams be accompanied by security personnel when they visit them.
The unrest is the worst reported between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists since sectarian violence plagued the region in June, leaving around 70,000 people displaced and scores of people killed.
Human rights groups have accused Burmese police and troops of disproportionate use of force and arrests of Rohingyas in the wake of the riots.
Human Rights Watch has accused Burmese security forces of targeting Rohingya Muslims with killing, rape and arrest following the unrest.
The new violence comes as Burmese President Thein Sein said he accepts foreign aid for Rohingya Muslims.
"We need humanitarian assistance, he told reporters in his domestic press conference since taking office 18 months ago.
If we reject the humanitarian assistance, the international community will not accept us," he said.
His comments were seen as refurbishing the image of his government following accusations of abuse of Rohingya Muslims by security forces in Rakhine.
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.
They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.
The Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term "Rohingya", referring to them as "Bengalis".
Burma is about 90 percent Buddhist and the majority are ethnically Burman, but the remaining people are a diverse group of over 100 ethnic and religious minorities.Treating Buddhism as the state de facto religion, the Buddhist Burman majority was singled out as the trustworthy pillar of national identity.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net