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Monk’s funeral descends into village brawl

Police form a cordon to block villagers from attacking each other after violence flared in a small Pakokku town during the funeral for a local monk. (PHOTO: DVB)

Some 70 police have been deployed to the village of Chaukkan in Pakokku, central Burma, after a mass brawl broke out during the funeral for a local monk on Tuesday.

Residents said a stand-off between men from the rival village tracts of Chaukkan-East and Chaukkan-West escalated into a pitched battle with missiles thrown and property set alight.

One man was reportedly injured by a missile which struck him on the head. Tensions rose further when the friends of the wounded man demanded that the person responsible for his injury be handed over.

A local resident named Nyan Yi Phyo told DVB on Friday that a fire broke out in his village-tract the evening before, with three fire engines and some police vehicles seen rushing to the village-tract. There was no confirmation it was an arson attack.

Pakokku township police confirmed that some 70 officers had been deployed in the village to quell the violence.

“We have already opened a case against the attacker – who is currently in hiding – after a report from the victim’s side. For the time being, we have deployed around 70 township and district police personnel to provide security on the ground,” Deputy-police-superintendant Htay Win told DVB by phone.

Funerals for Buddhist monks are often celebrated as festive events in rural Burmese areas, and are usually accompanied by entertainment such as stage performances, attracting revellers from neighbouring towns.