Authorities have imposed a curfew in Maungdaw town, where Rohingyas started rioting soon after returning from Friday’s prayers. They threw stones at Rakhine houses and buildings, according to Ko Win Maung, whose house was also burned down amid the violence.
The death toll was estimated at between 20 and 30 as of Friday evening.
Rohingyas are mostly stateless Muslims of South Asian descent and subjected to tight restrictions by the authorities.
The curfew prohibits residents of Maungdaw and Buthedaung towns from going outside between 6pm and 6am.
Contrary to foreign media reports, the army did not fire at the mobs, but instead fired warning shots, according to the reporter’s eyewitness account.
“Up to now, the handling of the army in this violence is smooth and flexible. It was reportedly known that the military fired only warning shots. Although the case seems to be a problem between Muslims and Buddhists, there may be some incitements behind the incident,” said Dr Than Htut Aung, chairman and CEO of the Eleven Media Group.
Dr Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhine Ethnics Development Party, said the situation was “very serious”, particularly in Maungdaw. “The problem should be solved by legal procedures. We do not accept anarchic actions. Security forces concerned should settle the problem systematically. We must control the situation [and keep it from spreading]. If the problem becomes bigger, it could possibly result in a series of cases,” Aye Maung said.
“I warned of the possibility of problems in Maungdaw after the case of Sittwe. These attacks will seriously threaten the Arakanese people, not only in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships, but also in some areas where they are the minority. The government is responsible for calming down the worries of these people.