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Ethnic clashes in Myanmar leave 56 dead

KYAUKTAW, Myanmar — At least 56 people were killed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in western Myanmar, a government official said Thursday.

The 25 men and 31 women were reported dead in four Rakhine state townships in violence between the Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities that rekindled Sunday, local government spokesman Win Myaing said.

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He said some 1,900 homes had been burned down in fresh conflict, while 60 men and four women were injured. It was unclear how many of the victims were Rohingya people and how many were Rakhine.

In June, ethnic violence in the state left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. Tens of thousands of people remain in refugee camps.

An Associated Press photographer who traveled to Kyauktaw, one of the affected townships 75 miles north of the Rakhine capital of Sittwe, said he saw 11 wounded people brought by ambulance to the local 25-bed hospital, most with gunshot wounds.

An account by a Rakhine villager in the area suggested great confusion and tension. The villager said that when groups of Rakhine and the ­Rohingya had a confrontation, government soldiers shot into a crowd of Rakhine, even though, according to his claim, it had been dispersing.

There have been concerns in the past that soldiers were failing to protect the Rohingya community, but the Rakhine villager’s account hints that the military may have been defending the Rohingya in this case.

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