Soldiers, Muslim Villagers Clash in Northern Arakan State

The remains of a building that was set on fire in Maungdaw on Jan. 28, 2013 (Photo: Rakhaing Straight Views)

The remains of a building that was set on fire in Maungdaw on Jan. 28, 2013 (Photo: Rakhaing Straight Views)

At least one person was killed in northern Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township on Monday following a clash between Burmese soldiers and Muslim villagers, according to local sources.

The incident reportedly occurred after the soldiers were called in to deal with a confrontation between residents of a Muslim village called Don Khara Dan and government forestry officials who accused the villagers of illegally cutting wood near the village of Wai Tharli.

According to local sources, around 20 villagers from Don Khara Dan, which is located about 2 km from the town of Maungdaw, threatened three forestry officials with machetes when they told them to stop cutting wood.

After the soldiers arrived on the scene to protect the officials, the villagers dispersed but later returned in larger numbers and tried to overpower the soldiers, the sources said. In the ensuing melee, one villager was accidentally shot, the sources added.

“The Muslims tried to grab the guns from the soldiers. One of them was hit when a soldier fired a warning shot and died before they could get him to a hospital. The other Muslims took his body away,” said a Maungdaw resident.

Win Myaing, a spokesperson for the Arakan State government, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the forestry officials had tried to stop the villagers from cutting down trees in a forest reserve.

“The Muslims started making problems for the Forestry Department staff, who were working on a road-building project in Wai Tharli village,” he said.

There was further unrest later in the day, when a group of Muslim villagers allegedly burned down a building at a golf course in Maungdaw, sources said.

Security has been tightened in Maungdaw since last week amid fears of renewed violence in the area, where clashes between Muslims and Buddhists broke out last June, setting off a wave of sectarian strife that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands homeless.

According to local sources, troops have recently been moved from Buthidaung Township to Maungdaw to deal with the increased tensions. The Burmese army currently has seven battalions stationed in Maungdaw to provide security, the sources said.

Last week, a vehicle owned by the army’s General Engineering Unit, which is working on a fence at the No. 48 border point between Burma and Bangladesh, was attacked by an unknown armed group. The engineers managed to escape, but the vehicle was set on fire.

In December, three army engineers were abducted by unknown gunmen. There has been no news of their whereabouts.

4 Responses to Soldiers, Muslim Villagers Clash in Northern Arakan State

  1. It can be a fabricated story. My friend’s parents who were in their 60s were on their way home from visiting their relative who was hospitalized. My friend’s parents were yelled at to stop by two soldiers. One of the soldier had automatic rifle in his hands but the other was unarmed. Their breath was horrible with alcohol odor according to my friend’s parents. For no reason, one of the soldiers punched my friend’s father on his stomach. Unprovoked attack did not end there. His wife watched her husband helplessly. After he fell down on the ground, kicking and hitting him with the rifle kept going on. Two of his ribs were broken. He could not even get up anymore. The soldiers asked their fellow soldiers and transported the wounded man into military jeep and brought him to their commander. The man was headmaster from Middle School. He was forced to write that he was the one who tried to grab the gun from the soldier, and he was forced to sign. So, in this incident in Rakhine State also, I will not believe what the soldiers said. These soldiers have tradition of telling lies throughout the history. Instead of believing and trusting these evil soldiers, I might rather believe and trust the Devil.

  2. That’s true character of illegal migrant Bengali so called Rohingya.
    These illegal migrant Bengalis robbed rice from boat in Kyauktaw. They burn down Government building in Maungdaw. You can read detail and more news in Narinjara News.
    These illegal migrant Bengalis are terrorizing in Rakhine state and insulting Burmese peoples in our land.
    Burmese Government must deport all illegal migrant Bengalis from Rakhine state to their home country Bangladesh. They should not grant Burmese citizenship in any circumstance.
    They are Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi Government must take its own peoples back from Burma.
    President U Thein Sein must protect Rakhine and other Burmese ethnics in Rakhine state.

  3. Violence by So called Rohingyas extremists turning for the worst as evidenced by recent direct confrontation with Myanmar security forces and now getting improvised explosive devices (IED) technology. Hindustan Times, New Delhi, January 30, 2013. Myanmar must develop elite rapid counter terrorism force to deter the new phase of Islamic terrorism to save Rakhine and Myanmar.

  4. This story sounds fake. You can’t accidently shoot someone if you fire warning shot and there is no way villagers will try to grab army guns, this is Burma we are talking about. Burma government is occupying lands of poor villagers, now their fascists are using other peoples religion to persecute them. This is shame for Buddhism, shame for Burma people. Burmese army is full of cowards. They cant fight against modern army, they are good for only attacking unarmed villagers belonging to minority community people.

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