UN calls for restraint, more gunfire reported in Maungdaw

UN calls for restraint, more gunfire reported in Maungdaw

Two of the United Nations’ top diplomats in Burma have called for all parties in Arakan State to show restraint as tensions threaten to escalate in the volatile region following deadly clashes between mobs and security officers near the Burma-Bangladesh border.

More gunfire was reported by Arakanese locals close to the border police headquarters that was attacked by armed assailants on Sunday leaving nine officers dead. Villager Kyaw Soe Moe told DVB that gunfire was heard from the village of Wapate, close to the border police headquarters, around 9am on Wednesday after Burmese troops were moved into the village.

A curfew from 7pm to 6am is currently in place in the towns of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, and gatherings of more than five people have been prohibited.

DVB has learnt that Arakanese Buddhist residents in the village of Inndin, located to the south of Maungdaw, have set up civilian patrols to monitor the streets at night.

Meanwhile, a delegation of senior government officials, including Information Minister Pe Myint, has had to reschedule a planned visit to Arakan State due to heavy rain.

The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Janet Jackson, has strongly condemned the violent attacks and killings in Maungdaw district. In a statement on Wednesday, her office said, “She is also very concerned about the unfolding situation and has conveyed this to the Government. The UN continues to follow the situation, urging that rule of law be fully respected, civilians be protected, and all efforts made to de-escalate tensions.”

Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, on Tuesday expressed his “deep concern at the violent attacks by unidentified individuals and groups against border guards and security forces on 9 October and the resultant fighting which has resulted in the deaths of security personnel as well as civilians in the three affected areas of Northern Rakhine [Arakan].”

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Nambiar also said he “had been informed by the concerned authorities in Naypyidaw that firm instructions have been issued from the highest levels to take action strictly in accordance with the law to maintain peace and avoid escalation.”

His statement added: “The Special Adviser calls on the civilian population of the area to exercise maximum restraint and not be provoked into any kind of response by targeting other communities or religious groups.”

Maungdaw and Buthidaung have majority Rohingya Muslim populations. Tensions between Rohingyas and the Arakanese Buddhist community boiled over into mob violence in 2012. At least 100 people were killed in the chaos, and some 140,000 fled their homes to displacement camps.

The newly elected government in Burma, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, recently appointed a 12-member commission to be led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to assess the situation in Arakan.

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