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80 unconfirmed dead in Burmese rioting this month


An unconfirmed report says as many as 80 people may have been killed in the widespread violence in Burma’s western Rakhine State in June. The latest figure came from a government official in Sittwe who was not named in an article on Thursday by Reuters news agency.  

The official said about 71 people have died in sectarian clashes so far this month, in addition to 10 Muslims killed on June 3 by a Buddhist mob seeking revenge for the rape and murder of a local woman, which started a series of bloody repriasals.

The violence has set off a refugees crisis and caused many Muslim Rohingya to try to flee across the Bangladesh border, where most have been turned back. The U.N. is trying to move into the area to start what they called a three-month relief effort to aid refugees who have fled their homes in fear.

Burmese officials and the majority of Burmese, including the mostly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine, consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and refer to them as “Bengalis” even though they have lived in Burma for generations. Suu Kyi, speaking in Europe during the past week, has called on Burma to make its citizenship laws clear. 

The dead bodies of eight more ethnic Rakhine were found this week in the village of Yathedaung, about 40 miles from the state capital Sittwe, the official said.

He said, “These people were killed by Bengalis.”

About 800,000 Rohingya live in Burma, according to the United Nations, which describes them as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

Bangladesh, where an estimated 300,000 Rohingya live, has been turning back Rohingya boats arriving on its shores since the outbreak of the unrest.

Rohingya leaders say the real number of dead could be much higher than the figures cited by authorities.

The government has placed the state under emergency law and instituted a curfew.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 June 2012 16:11 )  

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