World Bulletin / News Desk
A number of international aid workers have been evacuated from Myanmar's Rakhine State after angry Buddhist mobs attacked them on Thursday.
Although there are no reports of injuries, it is the first outbreak of violence in the region since January. The Rakhine State has seen on-and-off uprisings by Buddhist extremists who have killed 280 Rohingya Muslims in the past 2 years, forcing another 140,000 to flee for their lives.
Rocks were thrown at the homes of aid workers as hundreds of rioters stormed the streets. Police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd who wanted to attack the aid workers who were there to help the suffering Rohingya community.
It was said that violence was sparked when an aid worker removed a Buddhist flag from in front of their group's office.
"A female European staff member allegedly took off a religious flag put up near her office by local people as a gesture of boycotting the government-sponsored census," Aung Mra Kyaw, an official from the Rakhine National Party, told Reuters.
It was not clear which aid agency she worked for. The offices of some United Nations agencies were also attacked, Aung Mra Kyaw said.
A Myanmar citizen working for one aid group said all staff from international non-governmental organisations and U.N. agencies were preparing to evacuate to the commercial capital, Yangon.
The authorities have extended a nightly curfew already in place to between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. from midnight to 4 a.m.
The government is about to embark on its first national census in more than 30 years.
The Rohingya are regarded as immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh by many in Myanmar and are not recognised as one of the country's official ethnic groups, but some have said they will write in their ethnicity in a box on the census form.
That has stirred opposition to the whole census operation by some ethnic Rakhine people.
Up to 300 people are believed to have been involved in the disturbance.Last Mod: 27 Mart 2014, 14:14