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Buddhist villagers return to Maungdaw

Buddhist villagers are transported back to their neighbourhoods in southern Maungdaw on 20 October 2016. (PHOTO: DVB)

More than 100 persons, who fled their villages last week amid violent scenes in Maungdaw, were transported back home on Thursday morning.

U Manisara, the abbot of Alodawpyi Buddhist Monastery in the northwestern Arakanese town, which is situated close to the Bangladeshi border, said the displaced families were from south Maungdaw, and were transported back to their villages under arrangements made by local government officials.

“Over 100 villagers from southern Maungdaw’s U-Daung, Mawrawady, Kaigyi and Ale Than Kyaw neighbourhoods were transported back home this morning in a move to dissuade locals from abandoning their native land,” said U Manisara, adding that among the returnees were ethnic Mro, Arakanese Buddhist and Burman citizens.

Violence broke out in Maungdaw, a predominantly Muslim Rohingya town, on 9 October when armed assailants attacked border police outposts, leaving nine law enforcement officials dead. The incident – and subsequent clashes between Burmese security forces and mobs armed with clubs and swords – has compelled many in the surrounding villages to seek shelter elsewhere.

There are currently around 180 displaced villagers from north Maungdaw sheltering at Alodawpyi Monastery. The abbot said that Burma’s Border Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Win Aung yesterday visited the monastery, where he explained local security measures currently underway.

“The native ethnic population must remain in the area to maintain the sovereignty of our country,” said the abbot. “I told the officials to put in place strong security measures that will guarantee protection of the native people and their livelihoods.”

The border affairs ministry chief reportedly pledged to increase security in the area, as well as to build roads connecting ethnic villages for better transportation and communication.