Troops in northeastern Rakhine State were put on high alert on Tuesday, police said, after nearly 200 Rakhine Buddhist villagers fled the area after a recent spate of killings and amid fears of fresh attacks by Muslim insurgents.
Rakhine Chief Minister U Nyi Pu and senior state government officials travelled to the area after receiving reports of fleeing villagers, officials said, and border guards in neighbouring Bangladesh have also been put on alert.
On Tuesday, a villager in northern Rakhine was speared while praying at the weekend, following a separate attack on a village head by a group of at least 10 masked assailants who stabbed the village leader to death on June 17.
“The killings took place over the weekend and the situation is getting increasingly worse. A group of people wearing black masks has killed local administrators close to the government, so the residents are panicking. That’s why we are on high alert,” Rakhine State police chief, Sein Lwin, told Reuters.
Sein Lwin and a military source operating in the area said security forces expected fresh militant attacks on troops after Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which
ended in Myanmar on Monday.
Kyaw Win, a Rakhine ethnic villager, said nearly 200 villagers from 11 Rakhine ethnic villages had fled to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and
“We don’t dare to live here, there are a lot of rumours spreading among the people that we will be attacked by Muslims,” Kyaw Win told Reuters by telephone. But U Nyi Pu urged Rakhine nationals living in Maungtaw and Buthidaung Townships not to be taken in by rumours which could harm the peace and stability of the region.
“We came to know that local people are earning their living under stress as regards the event which took place in the village of Tarein very recently. Concerning this, I don’t want you to feel any worries. Measures are being increased concerning the security of the area, by combined forces of border guard police forces and government forces. I hereby want to claim that you should not be tricked by these rumours that can ruin regional peace and stability”, U Nyi Pu said Thursday while giving words of encouragement to resident of the village of Ywama at the Thiri Mingalar Ywama monastery in Buthidaung.
Colonel Htein Lin, minister for security and border affairs, Dr Chan Thar, minister for social affairs and Thura San Lwin, Police Brig-General also gave words of encouragement.
Local people living in Ywama Village in Buthidaung township were provided with rice, cooking oil, beans and canned sardines, followed by an inspection of housing estates for the staff being constructed by Housing Department by Chief Minister & responsible officials.
Reuters, Myint Maung Soe, Aung Kyaw Oo