Sittwe: Burmese security forces fired warning shots in the air to disperse a crowd who targeted and besieged a Muslim ward in Sittwe on Friday night, said officials and local residents.
It took place at around 8 PM one day after the authority eased the hours of the curfew. The curfew has been reduced from 7 pm to 5 am to a six-hour period between 10 pm and 4 am from the 11th October.
U Aung Mra Kyaw, a lawmaker in Arakan state parliament, said that the incident unfortunately took place after a rumor that Muslims from Aung Mingala ward entered the down town area of Sittwe to attack Buddhist Arakanese.
“The real fact is some Muslims from the ward crossed a main road at around 7 PM because that time was no longer restricted by curfew. So Arakanese Buddhist suspected their activities and then went there to look at what they did. When they arrived there, some Muslims knocked out the lamp-posts and ran into their ward. Afterward a crowed rushed to the ward and besieged it,” said U Aung Mra Kyaw.
Eye witnesses said a large numbers of people assembled beside the ward, and then the security force fired around 20 bullets into air as warning shots.
“The crowed was dispersed after warning shots were fired by the security force. Now the situation is calm and normal,” U Aung Mra Kyaw said just after the incident took place.
According to a report from Rakhine Straight Views, the authority arrested 2 monks and 4 laypeople and seized some motorbikes related to the incident. U Aung Mra Kyaw, however, has not confirmed this.
The police station in Sittwe is also refusing to confirm any details of the incident when contacted by Narinjara.
Aung Min Gala, known as Inbala, is the only remaining Muslim ward in Sittwe’s downtown area. Arakanese Buddhists in Sittwe have demanded the authority relocate the ward to outside Sittwe in order to avoid further violent confrontations.