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Malaysian police round up hundreds of Myanmar nationals

Raids follow sectarian clashes in Kuala Lumpur

AFP, Kuala Lumpur

AFP, Kuala Lumpur

Updated: June 05, 2013 07:48 PM GMT
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Malaysian police round up hundreds of Myanmar nationals
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Malaysian police said today they had detained more than 900 Myanmar nationals in a security sweep after at least two were killed last week in clashes believed to be linked to sectarian violence back home.

The two dead were likely Myanmar Buddhists killed during a spate of violent incidents in Kuala Lumpur since May 30, said Amar Singh Ishar Singh, the Malaysian capital's deputy police chief.

He added that two other people were in critical condition and the attacks were "believed to be the result of violence in Myanmar."

"The operation is to send a clear message to stop this nonsense and not bring the violence over to Malaysia," he said.

He gave no details on the attacks but Malaysian media reports, which said as many as four may have died, have suggested Buddhists came under attack from their Muslim countrymen seeking vengeance over violence back in Myanmar.

Deadly sectarian strife pitting Myanmar's majority Buddhists against the Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority has flared since last year in the country's western state of Rakhine.

Muslim-majority Malaysia says it is home to more than 80,000 Myanmar nationals, many of them Rohingya fleeing alleged persecution by Myanmar's Buddhist authorities and, more recently, the Rakhine violence.

Amar said more than 250 of those detained in Malaysia were handed over to immigration authorities as they lacked proper documentation.

The rest were released and no formal arrests have yet been made as investigations continue, he said.

Myanmar on Tuesday called on Malaysia to take action against those responsible for the attacks and protect Myanmar citizens.

U Maung Hla, who heads the Burma Refugee Organisation in Malaysia, said violence between exiled Myanmar communities here was not uncommon and was "sometimes due to religion."

The Rohingya have been described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities. About 800,000 are estimated to live in Myanmar, which denies them citizenship, rendering them stateless.

Malaysia does not grant Rohingyas refugee status but has turned a blind eye to the steady arrivals.

In April, Human Rights Watch accused Myanmar of "a campaign of ethnic cleansing" against Rohingya, citing evidence of mass graves and forced displacement affecting tens of thousands. Myanmar denies the charge. AFP

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