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Muslims flee burning homes during sectarian violence in Myanmar

AFP - Getty Images

Muslim residents carry their belongings as they evacuate their houses amid ongoing violence in Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western state of Rakhine on Tuesday. Dozens of people have been killed in a surge in sectarian violence in Myanmar, an official said on Tuesday as international pressure grew for an end to the bloodshed. A state of emergency has been declared in western Rakhine state, which has been rocked by a wave of rioting and arson, posing a major test for the reformist government which took power last year.

AFP - Getty Images

A resident walks through the smouldering remains of a burned house in Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western state of Rakhine.

Munir Uz Zaman / AFP - Getty Images

Bangladeshi Border Guard (BGB) personnel keep watch at a wharf in Taknaf on June 12, 2012, following the religious violence in neighbouring Myanmar. A Rohingya Muslim died in a Bangladeshi hospital June 12, days after he was shot allegedly by Myanmar security forces during last week's sectarian violence, police said. Bangladeshi border guards have been turning back boats transporting Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar, officials said, as the UN refugee agency called for the border to be opened.

Anurup Titu / AP

A Rohingya Muslim family, who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sits at a relief camp in Taknaf, Bangladesh, on Tuesday. Bangladesh on Tuesday turned away three boats carrying 1,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, bringing to 1,500 the number of refugees blocked in recent days, officials said.

Reuters reports that fighting has raged for five days in Sittwe in northwest Myanmar, and that some people are fleeing to Bangladesh:

Hundreds of Rohingyas have fled in rickety boats for the shores of neighboring Bangladesh but are being turned back to sea by authorities there, say Bangladesh border officials. Many of the boats, packed with women and children, are left drifting.

Groups of Buddhists patrolled the streets, some armed with bamboo stakes, machetes and sling-shots, witnesses said. Rohingyas were seen setting homes alight and throwing rocks. Min San Aye, Rakhine's Fire Department Chief, said some Rohingyas blocked roads.

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