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56 dead in new ethnic violence in Myanmar

By Yadana Htun

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012 10:07 a.m. MDT

Myanmar Buddhist monks hold banners and placards during a rally against recent violence in Rakhine state, outside the city hall in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. Nearly 200 protesters including Buddhist monks called for the stop of renewed violence in western coast of Myanmar. Rakhine state spokesman Myo Thant said clashes between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists - reported in other parts of the coastal region Sunday - engulfed the townships of Kyaukphyu and Myebon late Tuesday. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar — At least 56 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in western Myanmar, a government official said Thursday.

The 25 men and 31 women were reported dead in four Rakhine state townships in violence between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities that re-erupted Sunday, local government spokesman Win Myaing said. He said some 1,900 homes had been burned down in fresh conflict.

In June, ethnic violence in the state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. Tens of thousands of people remain in refugee camps.

The United Nations has called for calm Thursday in response to the new violence.

"The U.N. is gravely concerned about reports of a resurgence of inter-communal conflict in several areas in Rakhine State — which has resulted in deaths and has forced thousands of people, including women and children, to flee their homes," U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Ashok Nigam said in a statement.

Nigam said the United Nations was appealing for "immediate and unconditional access to all communities in accordance with humanitarian principles."

The statement said large numbers of people fleeing the new violence were headed for already overcrowded refugee camps currently housing about 75,000 people previously made homeless.

"Short term humanitarian support and action towards long term solutions are urgently required to address the root causes of the conflict," said the statement.

The unrest is some of the worst reported in the region since June, after clashes were set off by the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men in late May.

Tensions still simmer in part because the government has failed to find any long-term solution to the crisis other than segregating the two communities in some areas.

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