January 23, 2014
More than 30 Rohingya Muslims were killed in attacks by Buddhists last week in Burma’s Rakhine state, the BBC has been told.
Two international aid officials who were granted access to the area in the far west of the country said they had found evidence of a mass killing.
Human rights group Fortify Rights claims a series of attacks took place over five days last week.
The government and local officials have strongly denied claims of a massacre.
The latest development follows reports of clashes between Rohingyas and the police in the Maungdaw township over the past month.
It is thought tensions initially arose amid reports that several Rohingyas had been killed trying to flee over the border into Bangladesh.
Things escalated after a local policeman was reported missing, presumed killed.
Local Rakhine Buddhists aided by the security forces are then reported to have taken part in bloody revenge attacks in and around the village of Du Char Yar Tan.
The death toll of 30 is thought to be a conservative estimate, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.
Some reports say as many as 70 people – including women and children – were killed.
The UN’s humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has called on the government to allow aid workers into the area and to “immediately launch an impartial investigation” into the events.
The Rohingya people are considered stateless and are rejected by both Burma and neighbouring Bangladesh, our correspondent says.
At least 200 people were killed in fierce clashes between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine state in 2012.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims remain displaced in the wake of that violence, many still living in camps.
Sporadic outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence continued throughout 2013 in other parts of Burma as well.