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Fresh violence in Myanmar leaves mosque, monastery burned

By Kocha Olarn, CNN
October 24, 2012 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
An injured Buddhist man lies on a bed at the hospital in Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western Rakhine state, on Tuesday.
An injured Buddhist man lies on a bed at the hospital in Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western Rakhine state, on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The unrest has tested the president's efforts to seek ethnic reconciliation
  • Authorities have instructed that security teams accompany medical personnel
  • Rakhine has seen attacks and counterattacks between Muslims and Buddhists

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(CNN) -- Fresh sectarian clashes in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine killed three people and left more than 400 houses, a monastery and a mosque burned to the ground, authorities said Tuesday.

The clashes began Sunday night and spread to four townships, said state Attorney General Hla Thein.

Rakhine is home to the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority who say they have been persecuted by the Myanmar military during its decades of authoritarian rule.

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The unrest between the majority Buddhists and the Rohingya minority began five months ago and has tested the efforts of President Thein Sein's administration to seek reconciliation with Myanmar's different ethnic groups and move the country toward more democratic governance.

Authorities have declared at state of emergency in two of the townships, with the state's prime minister instructing that medical teams be accompanied by security personnel when they visit them.

The situation in the region has been tense since May when police detained three Muslim men in relation to the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman. Two of the men were sentenced to death; the third hanged himself while in detention.

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News of the crime appears to have motivated several hundred people to attack a bus in Rakhine in early June, killing 10 Muslims who were on board.

The violence then spread across the northern part of the state, resulting in the destruction of thousands of homes and the deaths of dozens, according to the government.

The national government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine, bringing in the military to help restore order.

Hundreds of Rohingyas tried to cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh, but were turned back.

Bangladesh said it already has too many Rohingya refugees, estimating that about 300,000 live in the country.

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