KYAUKTAW, MYANMAR – A minimum of 56 people have been killed and almost 2,000 houses destroyed in the latest ethnic violence outbreak in western Myanmar according to a report on Thursday from a government official.
The 31 women and 25 men were reported dead in four state townships of Rakhine in violence between the Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine communities that re-erupted on Sunday, Win Myaing, a local government spokesman said.
Myaing said that around 1,900 houses were burned down in the conflict, while four women and 60 men were injured. It was not clear how many victims were Rakhine and how many were Rohingya.
In June, violence in the state left around 90 people dead and over 3,000 homes destroyed. There remains to be tens of thousands of people in refugee camps.
A photographer with the Associated Press in Kyauktaw, one of the conflicted townships, 45 kilometres north of Rakhine, reported that he saw 11 people transported by ambulance to the local hospital – most of them had gunshot wounds.
One was later declared dead. All the victims were Rakhine, however that may reflect an unwillingness or inability of Rohingya to get treatment there.
A volunteer at the hospital said that five bodies, which included one woman, had also been transported there. He said they were brought by boat from Kyauktaw, 16 kilometres away.
The dispute goes back decades and comes from a dispute over where the Muslim inhabitants are from. While many Rohingya have lived there for years, they are widely considered to be foreigners. The government has denied them citizenship, and the UN estimates that there are about 800,000 of them in Myanmar.