Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Two shot dead, six injured in Rakhine IDP camp

Two Muslims were shot dead and six others wounded when security forces opened fire at a camp for some of those displaced by last year's violence in Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, the UN refugee agency said Friday.

The incident, on Thursday morning, took place as security forces tried to break up a dispute at the Kyein Ni Pyin camp in Pauktaw, home to at least 4,400 displaced people -- mainly Rohingya Muslims whose homes were torched in deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine locals.

"Gunfire was used by the authorities to disperse the crowd, resulting in the fatalities and wounding," the UNHCR said in a statement, adding two of the wounded were minors.

It was unclear if the casualties were Rohingya, according to a spokeswoman for the UNHCR, explaining the camp is home to both the ethnic group and Kaman Muslims.

"We are appealing to the authorities to handle the matter in a peaceful and calm way to avoid fuelling further violence and loss of life.

A spokesman for Rakhine State government confirmed that two Muslims were killed in the incident.

Up to 140,000 people -- mainly Rohingya -- were displaced in two waves of sectarian unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine last year that left about 200 people dead.

The majority still languish in unsanitary camps prompting the UN to warn of the dangers disease poses to the vulnerable camp residents as the monsoon rains continue to batter the region.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and, since the unrest, thousands have fled the region by sea.

Outbreaks of deadly communal unrest have dampened international optimism about the Myanmar's extensive political and economic reforms as it emerges from decades of harsh military rule.

Religious unrest has also broken out elsewhere in the ethnically diverse country, with dozens of people dying in violence in central Myanmar in March that mainly targeted Muslims.