Burmese security forces have arrested 30 suspects in connection with the killing of 10 people in western Rakhine State in June, which ignited the sectarian unrest that caused tens of thousands of people to seek shelter in refugee camps, according to state media on Sunday.
Citing the investigation into the case by a 16-member government team led by Deputy Home Minister Brigadier-General Kyaw Zan Myint, the New Light of Myanmar said that 19 suspects have also been arrested by local police in connection with a raid on the Sittway Police Station on June 3.
The 10 dead were Muslims. An ethnic Rakhine woman, Ma Thida Htway, 27, was raped and murdered by three Muslim men in Kyauknimaw village in Yanbye Township on May 28. The three men were arrested on May 29, and two were sentenced to death on June 18. The third committed suicide on June 9 while in custody, authorities said.
On June 3, a mob stopped a bus carrying Muslims who were unconnected with the murder and the passengers were hacked, stabbed and beaten to death, said police.
According to official figures, the death toll in Rakhine State stood at 78 as of June 24, while 3,158 homes or businesses were destroyed by arson.
As of June 23, the government has established 82 camps in five townships. Additional shelter units are urgently needed as the existing camps are already overcrowded.
Mizzima reported last week that the World Food Programme (WFP) had expanded distributions of emergency food supplies to thousands of people displaced by the inter-communal violence.
WFP estimated that there were to 90,000 displaced people in need of assistance and said it is preparing plans for a three-month food assistance operation that will require additional support from donors. In recent days, reports say some refugees have begun returning home, but they have expressed fears for their safety.
Twelve refugee aid workers representing the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders (DWB) have been detained in Rakhine State during the past few weeks, the U.N. said in Geneva last week. U.N. officials met with Burma’s foreign minister on Tuesday in Naypyitaw, the capital, to discuss the detentions.