Fresh anti-Muslim violence erupts in Myanmar

Featured South East Asia - May 2nd, 2013

A deadly riot erupted in Myanmar on Tuesday, killing one person and injuring at least nine others after Buddhist mobs hurled bricks and torched homes.

Residents said as many as 300 Buddhists tore through Oakkan, north of Yangon, set alight Muslim homes and shops, and ransacked one of two mosques. The latest anti-Muslim violence was reportedly provoked after a Muslim girl on a bike bumped into a monk, reports BBC.

“About 200 to 300 people arrived in our village on motorcycles and destroyed the mosque. All the villagers ran away. We were scared and didn’t resist. They destroyed until they were satisfied,” Soe Myint, a resident of Mie Laung Saktan village, told AFP.

One of the 10 people wounded in the violence died overnight, according to Thet Lwin, a deputy commissioner of police for the region.

Police have so far detained 18 attackers who destroyed 157 homes and shops in Okkan and three outlying villages, while around 300 police were deployed Wednesday. Authorities gave no details on who was behind the riots.

In March, more than 40 people were killed and thousands of Muslims displaced following deadly clashes in the central town of Meiktila.

The sectarian violence has posed a challenge to reformist President Thein Sein’s government. Increasing attacks on Muslim minority have left more than nearly 200 people dead and forced tens of thousands of families to flee their homes.