YANGON: Fresh sectarian violence erupted in western Myanmar yesterday, leaving one person dead and homes set ablaze as President Thein Sein made a rare visit to the troubled region.
Attacks against Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have overshadowed widely praised political reforms overseen by the former general since military rule ended in 2011.
Thein Sein, making his first trip to Rakhine state as president, was due to hold meetings with Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities during his two-day visit, according to a presidential office official.
“The main focus of the trip is the communal violence,” said the official, who asked not to be named. Security was being strengthened in the Thandwe area, which Thein Sein is due to visit today, officials said.
The latest unrest follows an argument over a parking space near a Muslim home last week which triggered arson attacks against property owned by local Kaman Muslims, according to the authorities.
“An old woman was killed during the clashes and houses were burned,” a police official said.
Around 250 people have been killed and more than 140,000 left homeless in several outbreaks of violence around the country since June 2012, mostly in Rakhine.
Thein Sein, a former junta premier turned president, spent yesterday visiting a different area of Rakhine populated mainly by stateless Rohingya Muslims. AFP