Several people dead in Myanmar sectarian conflict: Rights group

January 19, 2014 - 7:00:19 am
YANGON:  Several people including women and a child have been killed in an attack on Rohingya Muslims in strife-torn western Myanmar, a rights group said on Friday, as the United States voiced alarm.

Myanmar’s Rakhine state remains tense after several outbreaks of communal bloodshed between Buddhist and Muslim communities since 2012 that have killed scores and displaced 140,000 people, mainly from the Rohingya minority.

Details of the latest unrest were unclear, but activists said at least two women and a child were stabbed to death in an attack on a village near the border with Bangladesh earlier this week, with possibly several dozen casualties.

Myanmar authorities denied any civilian deaths but confirmed a clash took place in which a police officer was presumed to have been killed.

Chris Lewa, the Bangkok-based director of The Arakan Project, which lobbies for Rohingya rights, said the attack on the village of Du Chee Yar Tan on Monday happened some time after the initial clash with police.

“There were people killed, mostly women and children,” she said, but added that reports from sources in the area on the number of people killed varied widely, from around 10 to several dozen.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was “deeply troubled” by the reports of violence.

“We’re particularly disturbed by reports that security forces may have used excessive force in (perpetrating) some of the violence,” she added.

Lewa said one villager, who has worked with The Arakan Project, reported seeing the bodies of two women and a 14-year-old boy with stab wounds after returning to the village days after the unrest.

She said the use of knives suggested the involvement of local Rakhine Buddhists, who have repeatedly clashed with the Rohingya, rather than the police.

The Maungdaw area is populated mainly by stateless Rohingya, whose movements are strictly controlled by a heavy security presence.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it saw on Wednesday two wounded people “suffering from injuries inflicted as a result of violence”, one with a gunshot wound and the other apparently badly beaten.    AFP