Riots erupt in Arakan state

By DVB | June 8, 2012

Fresh riots have flared in Northern Arakan state with a group of Muslim residents destroying local restaurants and schools this afternoon as sectarian tensions boil over in the wake of anti-Muslim violence that left ten pilgrims dead on Sunday.

One police officer has been killed and four others injured, according to The Voice. Security forces claim to have restored order in Maungdaw, Arakan state, while ongoing riots are reported in villages on the outskirts of town.

The violence erupted around 1pm this afternoon after a group of Muslims gathered at a local mosque for Friday prayer, according to Narinjara news.

“The riot broke out as the Muslims were on their way back from prayer at the mosque in Shwezar around 1pm afternoon,” a Maungdaw local told the news agency.

He said the mob threw stones at the Kambawza Bank’s branch in town and also destroyed some Arakanese restaurants. The Voice reported that five primary schools and a number of Arakanese-owned buildings have been burnt down by the rioting mob.

According to the latest reports from Narinjara news group, riot police at the scene were firing at individuals in the mob who were instigating the violence.

The Messenger News reported that an official from the President’s Office posted a message on his Facebook that the government is acting swiftly to manage the incident in Arakan state and prevent any further violence from escalating. The official urged the people to remain calm.

Police in Maungdaw were unavailable for comment according to Narinjara.

Tensions have been on the rise in Burma after a sectarian attack targeting Muslim pilgrims left ten people dead in Arakan state on 2 June. The attack was sparked by an incident in May when three men, who were allegedly Muslim, are suspected of raping and murdering an Arakanese woman.

On 5 June, Muslims rallied in Rangoon in response to the sectarian attack, while political leaders and civil society groups called for calm.

“I would like to see all people in Burma get along with each other regardless of their religion and ethnicity,” said Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.

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