Conflict renews focus on Myanmar

June 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Ethnic and sectarian violence in western Myanmar is a growing and deep concern for the United States, the U.S. secretary of state said.

Violence between rival ethnic and sectarian communities flared last week when 10 Muslims were killed by mobs. More deaths were reported in the western state of Rakhine when police opened fire on demonstrators.

Myanmar had received sweeping praise from members of the international community following a series of political reforms that culminated in opposition leader, former prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi taking a seat in Parliament.

World leaders, however, had expressed concern about ethnic violence and human rights issues.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a statement, called for a comprehensive dialogue between Muslim, Buddhist and other communities to settle differences.

The United States continues to be deeply concerned about reports of ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence in western (Myanmar's) Rakhine state and urges all parties to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks," she said.

The International Crisis Group said the violence threatens to undermine Myanmar's political development.

"Unless the government takes steps not just to end the violence but also lay the groundwork for protection of minority communities there is a risk of the violence spreading," the group said in a statement.

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