Rathedaung — Rakhine extremists torched an ancient mosque in Rathedaung Township a few hours ago tonight, destroying the mosque from within.
It has been reported that dozens of Rakhine youths, apparently locals, barged into the premise of the mosque at the village of ‘Zaydi Pyin’ in Rathedaung and set it on fire at around 9:30 pm (local time) on April 25.
As the fire started, some local Rohingya Muslims rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire before it could entirely destroy the mosque. Soon after, hundreds of Rakhines started amassing at the place and have besieged the mosque with the people who put out the fire still remaining inside.
“Some villagers extinguished the fire and saved the mosque from getting burnt down. However, many more Rakhines arrived soon after and besieged them in the mosque. They are now trying to attack them and other local Rohingyas.
“A few policemen have also arrived but they are taking no actions. They are watching on as the Rakhine extremists are intensifying the situation and trying to attack people. Some people here are really worried”, said a Rohingya village men in Rathedaung.
The mosque is said to have been first founded in 1892.
Some locals believe that some Rakhine politicians and other powerful people in the government of Myanmar could be behind plotting to inflame violence once again in Arakan State (now called Rakhine state).
A Rakhine media outlet called Rakhine Gazette reported that at around 1:00 AM yesterday (on Apr 25), two masked men attacked and hacked a 28-year-old Rakhine woman at the village of ‘Oo Phauk’ in Rathedaung, while she was preventing them from robbing gold earrings from her 12-year-old daughter. According to the report, the victim is recovering in Rathedaung General hospital now. And the robbers, although unidentified, were suspected to be Rohingyas (the term ‘Bengali’ is used for ‘Rohingya’ in the report) going by the unfluent Burmese language they spoke.
Update: At around 3:00 AM (on Apr 26), more (border guard) police personnel arrived and freed the people besieged in the mosque. Later, the Police arrested 8 members of the mosque sanctuary committee and later released them on bail after investigations.
However, the sanctuary committee members have to present themselves whenever they are summoned by the Police and are subjected to further investigations. According to the sources, the Police is planning to accuse the local Rohingya Muslims of setting fire on the mosque by themselves and shifting the blame upon the Rakhine people.
[Edited by M.S. Anwar]