Rohingyan Muslims are an ethnic group who practice Islam and speak a language related Bengali. The origin of this group of people is disputed with some saying they are indigenous to the state of Rakhine in Myanmar while others contend they are migrants who came from Bengal, latterly Bangladesh, to Burma (Myanmar) during the period of British colonial rule. According to the United Nations, Rohingyans are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Many Rohingyans have fled Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh and to areas along the Thai-Myanmar border.
At least three dead in fresh Myanmar clashes
Fresh clashes between Muslims and Buddhists have broken out in volatile western Myanmar, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds of homes burned to the ground.
The unrest, which erupted on Sunday night, is some of the worst reported between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists since skirmishes swept the region in June.
Rakhine state Attorney General Hla Thein said the violence took place in Minbyar township, about 25 kilometres north of the coastal state capital Sittwe.
It later spread farther north to Mrauk-U township. Both areas were remote, reachable only by foot, Hla Thein said.
Sunday's riots took the lives of one Buddhist man and two Muslim women, he said. More than 340 homes were destroyed in arson attacks.
Authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the townships and both areas were calm yesterday, Hla Thein said. The last serious clashes in Rakhine state took place in August, when seven people were killed in the town of Kyauktaw.
The bloodshed cast a shadow over reforms by President Thein Sein, who conceded Myanmar had no choice but to accept foreign aid for the Rohingya or face an international backlash.
"We need humanitarian assistance. If we reject the humanitarian assistance, the international community will not accept us," he said.