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Seven Dead after Demonstration in Myanmar's Rakhine State


FILE - A Myanmar border guard police officer stands guard in Taung Bazar village, Buthidaung township, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, July 13, 2017.

Seven people have been shot dead by police in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state.

Officials say at least 4,000 people surrounded a government building late Tuesday in the town of Mrauk U, shortly after an annual ceremony marking the end of the Arakan kingdom more than two centuries ago.

Tin Maung Swe, the regional governor, says police attempted to get the crowd to disperse by firing warning shots using rubber bullets. When they refused to comply, the crowd began attacking soldiers and the security forces opened fire again using real ammunition.

Rohingya Muslim refugees react as police and officials attempt to control a surging crowd as they wait to be called to recieve food aid of rice, water, and cooking oil in a relief centre at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on November 28, 2017.
Rohingya Muslim refugees react as police and officials attempt to control a surging crowd as they wait to be called to recieve food aid of rice, water, and cooking oil in a relief centre at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on November 28, 2017.

In addition to the seven dead, 13 others were injured in the shooting. The shooting victims are reported to be Buddhists, not Rohingya.

Human rights group Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into the lethal use of force.

“These shocking killings are yet another example of Myanmar security forces’ contempt for human life. Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands. This is a clear case of excessive use of force in violation of the right to life," James Gomez, Amnesty's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

He said Myanmar police shold be better trained and equipped in non-violent methods of crowd control.

Rakhine state is the epicenter of one of the world's biggest and ongoing humanitarian crises. About 650,000 Rohingyas have fled into neighboring Bangladesh since last August, when Myanmar forces launched a scorched earth campaign against Rohingya villages in Rakhine state in response to attacks on Myanmar police outposts by Rohingya militants.

The United Nations has described the reported actions as "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing."

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