Myanmar evacuates foreigners after attacks on int'l NGO premises
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - March 30, 2014 - 1:00pm

YANGON (Xinhua) - Myanmar's police have evacuated some foreigners and local employees working for UN. agencies and international non-governmental organizations based in Sittway, the Rakhine state capital, after some local ethnic people attacked and destroyed their premises over the past days, state media reported Sunday.

A total of 38 foreigners have returned to their organizations and the remaining 29 are protected under Myanmar's security measure.

Riot broke out on Wednesday and continued into Thursday when a number of Sittway-based offices of international aid groups, including UN agencies of ICRC, UNHCR, WFP, were stoned and attacked by hundreds of unidentified local ethnic Rakhine demonstrators.

The unrest was triggered on Wednesday night by the taking down of a Buddhist flag by a female project coordinator of a humanitarian organization. The flag was hoisted near the office of the organization which was said to stand as a symbol of boycotting the government's  nationwide census which started on Sunday.

Following the incident, Myanmar's Rakhine state government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Sittway Thursday night to prevent violence from spreading.

On Friday, the  Myanmar government formed a five-member investigation commission, headed by Minister of Border Affairs Maj- Gen Maung Maung Ohn, to probe into the incident.

The commission is set to present its report on April 7.

Tension has aggravated in Rakhine state ahead of the nationwide census, the first in three decades.

Thousands of Rakhine ethnic residents have been protesting over the past days against listing Rohingya as Myanmar ethnic people in the census.

Rakhine state was once hit by bloody sectarian violence in mid- 2012.
 

GEN MAUNG MAUNG OHN MINISTER OF BORDER AFFAIRS MAJ MYANMAR ON FRIDAY RAKHINE ROHINGYA SITTWAY SITTWAY THURSDAY STATE THOUSANDS OF RAKHINE XINHUA
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