Between 60 and 70 households in three villages in Sandoway district in western Burma were burnt down by a mob on Tuesday morning and afternoon.
“Fourteen houses were burnt down in Thabyuchaung,” said district administrator Htun Wai. “At 11am, the police started shooting to disperse the crowd.”
According to a local witness, three rioters were injured when security forces shot them with rubber bullets and they were taken to a local police station.
“However, later in the day, the mob descended on the police station and demanded their release. Soon after, the riots started again,” he said.
He said that homes in Thabyuchaung, Pauktaw and Aungmingalargon, located about two miles from Sandoway, were set alight by the mob.
Meanwhile, Associated Press has reported that between 70 and 80 homes belonging to Muslims were burnt down by the mob, which was Buddhist in nature. It also said that a 94-year-old Muslim woman was stabbed to death in the melee.
It follows two days of unrest in the township, which was reportedly sparked by a Buddhist taxi driver telling police that he had been verbally abused by Muslim shop owner.
Muslim-Buddhist violence has been on the rise in Burma since President Thein Sein took office, casting a shadow over the country’s democratic reform programme.