Religious violence in Myanmar draws concern

Jan. 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM
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MAUNGDAW, Myanmar, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Reports of clashes between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Myanmar's Rakhine state have drawn the concern of the U.S. State Department.

"We're saddened to hear reports that several people have been killed, many injured, at least one missing, and hundreds of civilians displaced in violence that included looting and destruction of homes and property," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

At least three people were killed Jan. 14 in attacks in Du Chee Yar Tan village, near Maungdaw in Rakhine state after the disappearance of a police officer believed to have been extorting bribes from Rohingya Muslim villagers. Local residents retaliated violently against the Muslims, sparking a larger conflict, Voice of America said Monday.

Myanmar authorities deny any violence occurred, but the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, whose physicians work in the area, said two people injured in the violence, including one with a gunshot wound, were treated.

Chris Lewa, leader of the Rohingya rights organization The Arakan Project, said her group can confirm the deaths of at least three villagers in Du Chee Yar Tan village who were stabbed to death.

"There was an attack, that's for sure. ... Rakhine people from the village have been involved and the police, whether involved or not we cannot confirm, but we can definitely say they [the police] did nothing to stop it," Lewa said.

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