Fresh Outbreak of Communal Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State

Posted October 23rd, 2012 at 4:25 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese authorities say three people have been killed and hundreds of homes burned in a fresh outbreak of violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine state.

The violence, which broke out in two remote areas north of the capital of Sittwe, highlights simmering tensions in Western Burma, where widespread violence in June left dozens dead and tens of thousands displaced.

Officials say the latest unrest began Sunday or Monday in Minbyar township and later spread to nearby Mrauk-U township. There was little information on the situation as of Tuesday.

The June violence erupted following the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men. The unrest prompted fears of a humanitarian crisis among the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and many basic rights in Burma.

The unrest, which led to a state of emergency in Rakhine, has threatened to undermine the reforms enacted by Burma's new nominally civilian government.

Some rights groups say the Burmese military, which has a long history of abusing minorities, unfairly targeted Muslims during the unrest. Burma's government denies the charges.