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Buddhist mob attacks aid offices in Sittwe

Hundreds of Arakanese Buddhists gathered and attacked homes and offices occupied by Malteser International in Arakan State capital Sittwe on Wednesday night.

Some property was damaged but no one was injured, according to a parliamentarian and local sources.

The crowd split into three groups who threw stones at several houses that were rented out to NGOs, said Pe Than, an MP representing the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

“Locals asked the owners not to hire property to the NGOs,” he said.

Locals said that they were angered when a foreign female staff member removed a Buddhist flag from the front of the office and placed it in her pocket, which was interpreted by some locals as disrespectful because of the flag’s proximity to her lower body.

According to locals, flags have been placed outside of many Sittwe homes in a show of solidarity with a campaign to omit the term “Rohingya” from the census set to begin on Sunday.

Around 11pm, a mob had gathered and began launching stones at three buildings, local sources said. Security forces fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd.

The mob returned on Thursday morning.

As of Thursday morning, police had blocked the road that the houses were on, but could not prevent the angry crowd from launching more stones at the buildings.

Malteser International is a non-governmental humanitarian aid group headquartered in Europe and the US.



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