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Local Rohingya Residents Say Chemicals Were Used By Extremist Group To Torch Their Houses

Duchiradan Middle hamlet after fire on March 9, 2014

RB News 
March 11, 2014

Maungdaw, Arakan – 113 Rohingya houses were torched by a group of extremists in Maungdaw Township of Arakan State yesterday. The Rohingya residents claimed that the chemical could have been used by the group to spread the fire.

The fire started from the roof of a house in Rashidullah which is located in Sin Thay Pyin east hamlet of Longdon village tract. 40 houses in that village burnt down. 

“Rashidullah and family was having lunch when the fire started on the roof of his house. Rashidullah’s mother and his 7 year old son sustained injuries. Firstly, only 4 houses burnt down and the fire started again in another place which is 10 houses away from Rashidullah’s house. The houses are a little bit far away from each other. Normally an accidental fire can burn a house or a couple of houses in the village but this fire very surprisingly burnt one by one very quickly. We have total 40 houses in our hamlet. All were burnt down within a few minutes. The worst is all houses roof are made with nipa plam and thatches. The police arrested the wife of Rashidullah and took her to Kyain Chaung outpost.” a local told RB News

There is a stream which is 100 feet wide between Sin Thay Pyin east hamlet and Phan Myaung hamlet of Nga Sar Kyu village tract. The fire started in Phan Myaung after Sin Thay Pyin east hamlet burnt down. 72 houses and 3 shops burnt down in Phan Myaung hamlet. 1 cow, 1 goat, a paddy grain machine, two water pumps, 208 raw-rice bags, 500 rice bags and all of their other possessions got lost in the fire. There are total 123 houses in Phan Myaung hamlet and 72 burnt down in yesterday's fire. 

Local authorities came to the villages after the fire and ordered the villagers not to leave. Ordered stay inside the villages with temporary tents. But they didn’t provide any assistance for living nor foods. The fire in two hamlets left 362 people homeless. 

Sin Thay Pyin hamlet is located in the northern side of Longdon village, Southern side of Kyain Chaung village and Eastern side of Nga Sar Kyu village. The other of Sin Thay Pyin is Rakhine Natala village. Two months ago the Rakhines from Natala village left a Rakhine corpse in Sin Thay Pyin and tried hard to break the peace but as the villagers informed the authorities quickly the situation was controlled and nothing happened. 

“A 50 year old Rakhine woman and a young Rakhine woman came to our Sin Thay Pyin hamlet at 12:20 pm before the fire broke out. They were selling cosmetics. The fire broke out soon after they left from the village. The police from Natala village came into our hamlet and they stopped us from extinguishing the fire. Now we have learned that a chemical was used to torch our houses. Some people saw that some Rakhines are going around with some remote control devices. As the fire power is not like normal torching we assured that this time the torching method is different. The houses are also a bit far each other.” a local villager explained about the fire to RB News

Yesterday was Kyain Chaung weekly bazaar day and most of the men from the hamlets were in the bazaar, shopping for their daily livelihood. So as the women and children tried to save their lives themselves they were unable to save their properties. 

Moreover, a house of Shabir Ahmed caused fire in Wat Kyain village in northern Maungdaw Township.

“As per our investigation we heard that a Rakhine extremist group, RNDP led by Dr. Aye Maung brought some chemicals from India. We still have some good Rakhine Buddhist friends and they sympathize our plights and they are still like our families. So they are sharing some confidential information with us to avoid unnecessary problems. I can assure that yesterdays fire wasn’t a normal torching like they did in the past with petrol pouring. They have used some type of chemical.” a local Rohingya told RB News.

Additional reporting by MYARF and Sindi Khan.

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