A Dozen Reported Dead in Latest Arakan Violence

By Lawi Weng 20 June 2012

Another deadly clash in Arakan State left 12 people dead on Tuesday amid growing concerns about a looming humanitarian crisis facing tens of thousands of people displaced by weeks of violence between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the state.

The latest incident occurred in the village of Kukaung in Rathedaung Township, near the state capital of Sittwe. Local sources, including a member of Burma’s Parliament, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that 10 of those killed were ethnic Arakanese, while the other two were Rohingyas.

Another source from the village said, however, that only the body of one Arakanese villager had been recovered, while the other nine had “disappeared” and were presumed dead.

“The authorities are going from house to house looking for the nine who disappeared. We believe they [Rohingyas living in a neighboring village] hid the bodies somewhere,” said the source.

“We could see from the distance that they buried their own people,” he added.

The clash occurred on Tuesday morning when residents of Kukaung confronted a group of Rohingyas who had started setting fire to homes in the predominantly Arakanese village. In addition to the 12 who were reported killed, another five were injured, while around 20 homes were destroyed by fire.

Security forces later arrived to restore order. The situation in the village is now “stable,” said one source.

This latest outbreak of violence came after several days of relative calm following weeks of communal unrest that left at least 50 people dead and 30,000 displaced, according to official figures.

According to the UN’s World Food Programme, however, the actual number of displaced people in need of immediate emergency assistance is around 90,000. The agency said that in the past week, it has distributed food to around 60,000 people in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, near the Bangladesh border, as well as in Sittwe and the town of Rathedaung.

The Arakan State authorities reported that more than 2,500 houses were destroyed during riots that started on June 8 after a group of Muslims were lynched by a mob five days earlier, apparently in reprisal for the rape and murder of an Arakanese woman on May 28.

On Monday, a district court in Maungdaw sentenced two Rohingya men to death in the rape and murder case; a third suspect allegedly committed suicide while in police custody.