Friday, June 8, 2012
Burmese police 'open fire'
20:58 AEST Fri Jun 8 2012
Police in western Burma have opened fire in an attempt to quell religious tensions in a town dominated by the Rohingya Muslim minority group.
"Police opened fire in Maungdaw in Rakhine state. There are no casualties," a government official said on Friday.
Sectarian tensions have surged in Rakhine state, along the Bay of Bengal, since 10 Muslims were killed by an angry Buddhist mob on Sunday.
The victims' bus was surrounded by a crowd of hundreds of people enraged at the May 28 rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, allegedly by three other Muslim men, state media reported on Tuesday.
The violence threatens to overshadow reconciliation efforts since a series of dramatic political reforms last year ended almost half a century of military rule.
An official from the presidential office said police were deployed on Friday after about 300 people returning from mosques threw stones at a government office, police station and local businesses.
"Now it is under control," the official said, adding that there was also stone-throwing in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe.
Abu Tahay, of the National Democratic Party for Development, which represents Rohingya, said there were unconfirmed reports one or two people were killed by security forces in Maungdaw.
Weekly Eleven, a local journal, reported on its website homes were set ablaze in the unrest.
The authorities this week warned against "anarchic acts" after the mob killings and an attack on a police station by an angry crowd in Sittwe.
Religious clashes occur periodically in Myanmar, and Rakhine state - which has a large Muslim minority population including the stateless Rohingya - is a flashpoint for tensions.
Buddhists make up 89 per cent of the population of Burma, with Muslims officially representing four per cent.
The United Nations describes the Rohingya as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.