A group of about 200 Buddhist extremists have raided a Muslim village in central Myanmar, destroying parts of a mosque and forcing residents to seek refuge overnight in a police station.
The Buddhists rampaged through the area of Thuye Tha Mein village in Bago Province on Thursday, following an argument between the residents over the building of a Muslim school.
The violence erupted after “a Muslim man and a Buddhist women started to argue and then people came to fight him,” said Hla Tint, the village administrator.
The assailants “also destroyed the fence of the Muslim cemetery,” he added.
They forced around 70 Muslims, including children, to seek shelter in a police station, said the administrator, adding that the violence caused no serious injuries, and that peace had been restored in the area.
However, one of the Muslim residents of the village said his community of around 150 people is now living in fear.
“We had to hide as some people were threatening to kill Muslims,” said Tin Shwe OO.
“The situation has never been like this before,” he said. “I do not dare to stay at my house. For the safety of my family, I want to stay somewhere else for about a week or so.”
In recent years, a large number of Rohingya Muslims have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists, especially in Rakhine State.
The violence against Muslims struck central Myanmar and western Rakhine State when the army began loosening its stranglehold on the country in 2011.
Western Rakhine State is home to the Rohingya Muslim minority, who are labeled “Bengali” by hardline Buddhists.
Many government officials brand the Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many can trace their ancestry back generations.
Some 140,000 people, mainly Rohingya, have been trapped in grim displacement camps since they were driven from their homes by waves of Buddhist violence in 2012.
The violence against Muslims triggered an influx of refugees into neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.