Two Mosques Attacked in Karen State

By Lawi Weng 29 October 2012

Two mosques in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township were the apparent targets of a pair of grenade attacks that took place shortly after midnight on Monday, according to sources in the area.

Witnesses in Kawkareik said that a mosque in the town’s Muslim quarter was hit by two hand grenades. One of the grenades exploded inside the mosque compound, while the other hit a brick wall.

A similar attack was reported in Kyondo, a sub-township of Kawkareik, where residents reported a small explosion at a local mosque.

No casualties were reported in either incident.

Local authorities said they are still in the dark about who carried out the attacks, and why.

“We are still investigating. We don’t know the reason for the attacks,” a police officer in Kawkareik told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

There are various armed groups based in Kawkareik, including the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and an ethnic Karen Border Guard Force under the command of the Burmese armed forces, but no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“Anyone could have done this, because both the Karen groups and the Burmese Army have their own grenades,” said Myint Shwe, a resident.

This is the first time that mosques have come under attack like this, said local residents. They added that they weren’t sure if the incidents were related to last week’s violence in Arakan State.

According to UN estimates, around 28,000 people were left homeless after the latest round of communal clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the state. The Burmese government has put the death toll at 84 since violence started again last week.