One shot dead by police in west Myanmar displacement camp unrest

One shot dead by police in west Myanmar displacement camp unrest
File photo of a girl from the Pauktaw township standing in front of her family's shelter in a Rohingya internally displaced persons camp outside Sittwe

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - A man was shot dead after security forces in strife-torn western Myanmar opened fire as unrest broke out in a camp for displaced Muslims, authorities said Friday.

Police were called to a displacement camp near the Rakhine state capital Sittwe on Wednesday, as a group of inhabitants attempted to attack two local brothers, aged 13 and 21, who they accused of theft.

Officers fired warning shots as they tried to rescue the pair and were attacked with rocks and knives, according to state media reports and local police.

"One man was shot and killed when he tried to stab police," a police officer in Sittwe told AFP, asking not to be named. Two other men were arrested.

Rakhine state remains riven by deep hostilities between Buddhists and Muslims after two waves of bloodshed in 2012 that left at least 200 people dead.

Some 140,000 people, mainly stateless Rohingya Muslims, are homeless and trapped by travel restrictions in miserable camps, without access to work and cut off from most basic services.

More than 86,000 people have taken to rickety boats in the past two years trying to flee the situation in Rakhine, which is also now gripped by a severe health crisis.

The shooting comes as Myanmar hosts a series of meetings with top diplomats, including weekend talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, that will highlight concerns over religious violence in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Anti-Muslim unrest has erupted sporadically across Myanmar since 2012, most recently in the second largest city of Mandalay, fuelling fears of a destabilising impact on that country's democratic transition.

There are an estimated one million Muslims living in impoverished Rakhine, according to official estimates.

Many are Rohingya, but the minority is not recognised by the Myanmar government which calls them "Bengali" and views them as predominantly immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

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