CHIANGRAI TIMES – Buddhist vigilantes in Western Myanmar have attacked a bus and killed nine Muslims in of the deadliest communal violence in the country.
“More than a hundred people beat and killed those people. The residents even torched the bus,” a villager told the News.
A bus carrying Muslim passengers was attacked near Taunggoke town in the western state of Rakhine late Sunday, June three.
The assault followed the killing of a Buddhist woman in the area.
Resident Kyaw Min told Reuters that Buddhists “were angered by the authorities’ handling” of the assault on the woman, who people in the area said was raped and killed.
before Sunday’s assault, leaflets bearing a photograph of the woman and describing the rape were distributed in the area.
Several residents, who declined to be identified, said the Muslims on the bus were not from the area and were on a visit to Rakhine state.
They suggested those killed may not have any relations to the assault on the woman.
Police have launched an inquiry in to the assault.
“An inquiry is underway but I cannot give you any further details,” said a police official who requested anonymity.
Rakhine is home to Myanmar’s largest concentration of Muslims, but their presence is often resented by the Buddhist majority.
Muslims make up percent of Myanmar’s over 53 million population.
The largest group of Myanmar Muslims is the ethnic-Bengali minority, usually known as the Rohingyas, who chiefly live in the western state of Rakhine.
Less numbered are the Indian-descended Muslims who live in Yangon and ethnic-Chinese Muslims, known as the Panthay.
Muslim groups have blamed the assault on the growing hostile campaigns against the large minority.
In a joint statement, eight overseas-based Rohingya rights groups said the assault on “Muslim pilgrims” came after months of anti-Rohingya propaganda stirred up by “extremists and xenophobes”.
A spokesman for the coalition, Tun Khin, said they was concerned about the plight of Muslims in Myanmar.
They called on the government to treat Muslims and tackle “Rakhine terrorism”.
Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own residence.
Every year, thousands of minority Muslim Rohingyas run away Myanmar in wooden boats, embarking on a hazardous journey to Thailand or Malaysia in search of a better life.
While some find work as illegal laborers, others are arrested, detained and “repatriated” to a military-ruled country that washed its hands of them decades ago.
Rohingyas say they are deprived of free movement, schooling and employment in their homeland.
They are not recognized as an ethnic minority by Myanmar and say they suffer human rights abuses at the hands of government officials.