Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– A human rights group has released pictures showing what appears to be the destruction of a western Burmese district riven by ethnic unrest.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said more than 800 buildings and houseboats were burned.
Satellite images show a 35-acre area burned to the ground in Kyaukpyu, a coastal town in Rakhine state, the rights group said.
Most of the inhabitants were Muslim Rohingyas, the target of attacks by non-Muslims who say they do not belong in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, according to the HRW.
It also said violence renewed between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims on October 21 and continued all week in at least five townships: Minbya, Mrak-U, Myebon, Rathedaung, and Kyauk Pyu.
This was the first time violence had reached Kyauk Pyu and most of these other parts of the state since the sectarian violence and related abuses by state security forces against the Rohingya began in early June. The Rohingya have suffered the brunt of the violence.
“Burma’s government urgently needs to provide security for the Rohingya in Arakan State, who are under vicious attack,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless the authorities also start addressing the root causes of the violence, it is only likely to get worse.”
The Burmese government initially said that more than 2,800 houses were burned down in the new violence and that 112 people were killed, an estimate they later reduced to 64.
The HRW fears the death toll is far higher based on allegations from witnesses fleeing scenes of carnage and the government’s well-documented history of underestimating figures that might lead to criticism of the state.
BBN/SSR/AD-27Oct12-6:10 pm (BST)