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You are here: News Mizzima Nine die in sectarian clash in Rakhine State

Nine die in sectarian clash in Rakhine State

What’s believed to have been a clash between Buddhist and Muslims in Rakhine State in western Burma has claimed the lives of nine people, according to a Burmese government official.

A rough stretch of road between Kyauk Phyu and Rangoon in Rakhine State, where relations are tense between Buddhists and Muslims following the reported rape and murder of a Rakhine woman. Nine people believed to be Muslims were murdered in an attack by angered Buddhists. Photo: NarinjaraRakhine residents in Taunggote Township apparently attacked victims believed to be Muslims who were visiting the area from central Burma, according to Agency France Presse.

“We heard nine people were killed by ethnic Rakhine residents in Taunggote town this evening. We do not know the details yet,” a government official told AFP.

Local residents reportedly said the recent rape and murder of an ethnic Rakhine girl had stirred sectarian anger and suspicions in the area. One man from the village where the attack took place said a mob of ethnic Rakhines set upon a bus that they believed was carrying those responsible for the murder-rape, said the news agency.

“More than a hundred people beat and killed those people. The residents even torched the bus,” he said, adding that the police arrived but were unable to control the rampaging crowd.

Another local man also told AFP that the crowd murdered the passengers in an attempt to capture the supposed killers of the girl.

Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims occur periodically in Burma and in Rakhine State, which borders Bangladesh and is a hotspot for religious tensions.

Buddhists make up some 89 per cent of Burma’s population, with Muslims representing about four per cent.

Rakhine state has a large Muslim minority. Among them, the Rohingya are the most well known, making up approximately 25 per cent of the state's population. The Rohingya population, according to a 2009 U.N. estimate, numbered about 723,000; they are not counted as citizens by the government and are denied common benefits.

Almost 300,000 Rohingya live in Bangladesh as refugees, which has created a social problem for Bangladesh and Burma.