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Survivors criticize Myanmar government over clashes

SITTWE, Myanmar — Survivors of ethnic clashes in western Myanmar lashed out at the government Monday for failing to prevent violence between Muslims and Buddhists that has displaced some 28,000 people over the last week.

The crisis, which began in June, has raised international concern and posed one of the biggest challenges yet to President Thein Sein, a reformist who inherited power from a xenophobic military junta last year.

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The latest violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims began Oct. 21 and has left at least 84 people dead and 129 injured, government officials say. Human rights groups believe that the toll could be far higher.

‘‘The authorities are not solving the problem, and soldiers are not defending us,’’ said Kyaw Myint, a Muslim who took refuge at Thechaung camp outside Sittwe. He fled his home in nearby Pauktaw when it was torched Wednesday.

A 37-year-old Rakhine trader named Maung Than Naing, reached by phone in the village of Kyauktaw, expressed anger over the government’s handling of the violence.

‘‘We are helpless because the government is not dealing with the root of the problem,’’ he said. ‘‘We no longer want to live with the Muslims.’’

A tense calm has held across the region since Saturday, Rakhine state spokesman Myo Thant said.


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