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Ten dead in Myanmar clashes

October 12, 2016

Violence has continued to escalate, with 29 deaths recorded since Sunday. The Rohingya are said to be one of the world's most persecuted groups; a plight on Myanmar's democratic gains.

Myanmar Polizeikräfte suchen Angreifer nah der Grenze zu Bangladesch
Image: Getty Images/AFP

Myanmar troops are reported to have killed 10 people on Wednesday as clashes continued in the northern districts of Rakhine.

The military said that the troops were attacked by armed men, "shooting with guns, using sticks and knives," in the Kyet Yoe Pyin village, near the border with Bangladesh. The region, home to the Muslim Rohingy minority, has a bloody history of sectarian clashes and is once again gripped by violence.

On Tuesday, four soldiers and one attacker were killed when hundreds of men wielding pistols and swords stormed the brigade in Pyaungpit, a nearby village to the town of Maungdaw. That same day, the military also discovered seven dead people after fighting erupted in the Taung Paing Nyar village.

"Swords and sticks were found with the bodies," the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Myanmar die Zivilbevölkerung flieht vom bewaffneten Konfilkt in Maungdaw
Locals are fleeing to the capital after violence broke out in MaungdawImage: Getty Images/AFP

Military presence has intensified in the northern region on the border with Bangladesh after nine police officers were killed and five were wounded in a string of coordinated attacks on three border posts on Sunday. The military has also locked down much the northern region.

A number of civilians, particularly teachers and government workers, have fled to the state capital, Sittwe.

History of discrimination

Discrimination and sectarian violence has riffled the impoverished region. For years, the Muslim Rohingya, a stateless minority, have been vilified by Buddhist nationalists as illegal immigrants. They have also faced stringent restrictions on movement, as well as access to basic services. Rights groups have deemed them one of the world's most persecuted peoples, despite many of them tracing their lineage in Myanmar back for generations. 

In 2012, clashes in Rakhine left more than 100 people dead and drove tens of thousands of Rohingya people into displacement camps.

Myanmar Polizeikräfte verfolgen Angreifer nah der Grenze zu Bangladesch
Myanmar troops scour for attacks in the Rakhine stateImage: Getty Images/AFP/K. Htoo Mrat

Some activists have accused the Myanmar military's lock down and scouring of the attackers as a pretext for cracking down on the Rohingya people.

International pressure

While heralded for its significant democratic gains, the international community has piled pressure on Myanmar and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to reach a solution on the plight facing the Rohinya people.

The UN's special adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, has called on civilians to "not be provoked into any kind of response by targeting other communities or religious groups" and to exercise restraint at what he described as a "delicate juncture" for the state.

The European Union has also called for an investigation to be carried out on the Rakhine state "in line with the rule of law".

Aung San Suu Kyi has appointed former UN chief Kofi Annan to chair an advisory commission to explore issues in Rakhine. "Until we know clearly what is happening, we will not accuse anyone," the Nobel laureate said on Wednesday. "We will only bring charges when we have concrete and firm evidence."

dm/rc (AFP, AP)