rakhine.jpg
Photograph: Google maps

Unrest in Myanmar's western Rakhine State is forcing hundreds to flee the crisis zone, with state media reporting on Friday that the army evacuated almost 200 civilians from the area in helicopters.

Dozens have been killed in clashes between villagers and the army since an attack on three border guard posts that killed nine policemen on Sunday. Though police have arrested two suspects, the perpetrators and their motives are still unknown.

The attack on the border with Bangladesh triggered a series of killings in Rakhine State, a region that has been torn by inter-communal conflict between Buddhists and Muslims for years. 

An extended curfew and further security measures have been imposed. Over 400 schools in Northern Rakhine were closed, according to the local newspaper Myanmar Times.

The unrest is spiking fear of a repeat of the 2012 violence that tore Rakhine State apart when the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man caused violence that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands. 

Over 100,000 Muslim Rohingyas, deemed to be one of the most persecuted minorities in the world by the United Nations, have since been living in squalid camps, with restricted access to health care, education or jobs. 

While the local police is blaming Rohingya groups for the initial attacks, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and her government are calling for caution. "We are not going to accuse anybody until we know clearly and have solid evidence", she said during a press conference in the capital Naypyitaw on Wednesday.

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