Hundreds of Buddhists have rioted in western Myanmar, killing a 94-year-old Muslim woman and setting more than 70 homes ablaze, police say.
Kyaw Naing, a police officer, told the AP news agency that the clashes broke out on Tuesday in Thabyachaing village, about 20km north of the coastal town of Thandwe in Rakhine state.
He said the woman died of stab wounds and between 70 and 80 houses were set on fire. Muslim residents said others were injured in the riot, but could not provide details.
Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, travelled to the western state of Rakhine on Tuesday in his first visit since sectarian violence broke out more than a year ago.
“Just military and police forces won’t be enough to control the situation. These burnings, killings and violence will not happen only when you take part to maintain peace by yourself” Sein said, addressing a gathering in Pauk Taw township, one of the townships faced with unrest.
He was due to hold meetings with Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities during his two-day visit, according to a presidential office official.
Sectarian clashes that began in Rakhine state in June 2012 have since morphed into an anti-Muslim campaign that has spread to towns and villages nationwide.
So far, more than 200 people have been killed and more than 140,000 have fled their homes, the vast majority of them Muslims.
President Sein, who has been praised for making moves to transition from half a century of military rule, has also been criticised for failing to contain the unrest and protect the country’s embattled Muslim minority.