Dozens of houses and a mosque have been burned in a fresh wave of violence in central Myanmar after at least 32 people were killed in attacks by extremist Buddhists against Muslims in Meiktila town, officials say.
“Altogether 43 houses and a mosque have been burned last night(Saturday) … most of the houses belong to Muslims…This kind of case has never happened here, ” AFP quoted a ward official in Yamethin town, as saying on Sunday.
Officials say scores of people have been arrested. Yemethin is located in the southeast of Meiktila where thousands of Muslim residents fled their homes following several days of deadly unrest. Clashes erupted late on Wednesday after extremist Buddhists set fire to several mosques in the city. Parts of Meiktila, situated some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital city of Naypyidaw, have been reduced to ashes as a result of arson attacks. The armed attackers-- among them monks-- brunt dozens of houses. On Saturday, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party Win Htein issued a statement saying that “Calm has been restored after troops have taken charge of security (in Meiktila) …So far, nearly 6,000 Muslim people have been relocated at a stadium and a police station for their safety.” The unrest comes amid heightened tensions between the two sides which have left at least 180 people dead and more than a 100,000 Muslims displaced since June 2012. On October 21, 2012, at least 11 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar were killed after extremist Buddhists set fire to their houses in two Muslim villages in the city of Sittwe in the western Rakhine state. The silence of the human rights organizations toward abuses against the Rohingya Muslims has emboldened the extremist Buddhists and Myanmar’s government forces. The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas and has classified them as illegal migrants, even though the Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.