Myanmar (ANN)-More than a dozen residents of a Buddhist community in troubled Rakhine state in western Myanmar were killed as Rohingya Muslims rioted on Friday.
Authorities have imposed a curfew in Muangdaw town where Rohingyas started rioting soon after returning from Friday prayers. They threw stones at Rakhine houses and buildings, according to Ko Win Maung whose house was also burned down amidst the violence.
Death toll was estimated at between 20 and 30 as of Friday evening.
The Rohingyas are mostly stateless Muslims of South Asian descent and subjected to tight restrictions by the authorities.
The curfew prohibits residents of Maungdaw and Buthedaung towns from going outside between 6pm and 6am.
Contrary to foreign media's reports, the army did not fire at the mobs, but instead fired warning shots, according to the reporter's eyewitness account.
“Up to now, the handling of army in this violence is smooth and flexible. It was reportedly known that the military fired only the warning shots. Although the case seemed to be the problem between the Muslims and the Buddhists, there may be some incitements behind the incident,” said Dr Than Htut Aung, chairman and CEO of the Eleven Media Group.
Dr Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhine Ethnics Development Party said the situation particularly in Maungdaw is "very serious".
"The problem should be solved by legal procedures. We do not accept anarchic actions. Security forces concerned should settle the problem systematically. We must control the situation [and keep it from spreading].. If the problem becomes bigger, it is possible to result in series of cases," Aye Maung said.
"I warned of the possibility of problems in Maungdaw after the case of Sittway. These attacks would seriously threaten the Arakanese people, not only in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships, but also in some areas where they are the minority. The government is responsible in calming down the worries of these people.
"Paramilitary forces should be organised to safeguard the security of respective areas. The government should allow more security plans. We will also submit these plans to the parliament. If this incident is similar to the massacre of 1942 which was intentionally plotted, the persons behind the curtain are responsible for the consequences. Security persons, international figures and religious leaders should not neglect the case. They should cooperate in solving this problem,” he added. - Eleven Media Group