Dozens take refuge after mosque ransacked in Bago village

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

WAW TOWNSHIP, Bago Region — Police have restored order in the Bago Region village of Thuye Thumain on Friday, the day after a mob ransacked a mosque and assaulted a member of the local Muslim community.

Dozens of Muslim villagers took refuge overnight at the Waw Township police station, 21 kilometres from Thuye Thumain, after a crowd of around 200 people tore through the mosque and began looting the home of Abdul Rashif.

The incident appears to have arisen over an argument about the construction of a Muslim school in the village, 85 kilometres from Bago town.

Villagers told Frontier Rashif yelled at a woman who complained about the school’s construction to the local offices of the General Administration Department and shouted abuse at a meditation ceremony outside his home the same afternoon.

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A police officer rests during a patrol of Thuye Thumain village on Friday. (Teza Hlaing / Frontier)

A police officer rests during a patrol of Thuye Thumain village on Friday. (Teza Hlaing / Frontier)

In retaliation, Rashif was stabbed and beaten by a Buddhist assailant before his home was attacked, with the gathering mob then setting their sights on the nearby mosque.

According to local police, no-one was killed in the attack. Rashif did not require hospitalization and is at the Waw Township police station in protective custody, along with the family of the woman at the centre of yesterday’s dispute.

Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein and Security Minister Colonel Khin Maung Htay arrived at the police station and spoke with victims’ family in the early hours of Friday morning. The station’s Major Ohn Lwin told Frontier that no-one had yet been charged in the incident.

“If we charge one side, one group will be angry and vice versa. So we have to wait for orders to resolve the situation properly,” he said.

Police Captain Htay Khine said a detachment of 40 police officers had been sent to monitor the situation and keep order in Thuye Thumein.

Abdul Rashif's ransacked home on Friday. (Teza Hlaing / Frontier)

Abdul Rashif’s ransacked home on Friday. (Teza Hlaing / Frontier)

There are an estimated 400 households in Thuye Thumein, with around 150 Muslims living in the village, according to local administrators.

U Norakhat, a Muslim resident of the village, said the attack on the mosque was not a result of communal tensions but a personal dispute that escalated dramatically.

“The problem is about between Abdul Rashif and his neighbours, not about us, it’s not related to us,” he said. “They came to destroy his building near the mosque and then they happened to destroy the mosque as well.”

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