32 Burmese refugees killed in Thailand blaze

Updated 23 March 2013

32 Burmese refugees killed in Thailand blaze

BANGKOK: As many as 32 Burmese refugees died yesterday in a raging fire at a camp in Thailand, officials said.
Mae Hong Son Gov. Naramol Palawat said the fire destroyed about 100 thatch huts at the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp. She said the blaze was believed to have been started by a cooking accident. The fire was put out after about two hours, and those who lost their shelters are being temporarily housed in tents, she said.
A worker for the local emergency medical service said 32 people had died and two were severely injured and sent to a hospital in Chiang Mai, the nearest big city.
The worker, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to release information, said several dozen people suffered minor injuries.
Meanwhile, Myanmar declared a state of emergency yesterday for a riot-hit town where 20 people have been killed in Buddhist-Muslim violence.
Swathes of Meiktila, located 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital Naypyidaw, have been reduced to ashes as the authorities struggle to establish control after three days of clashes and arson.
“At least 20 people have been killed. We estimate that it could be higher but it is also difficult for us to gather all the figures,” a police officer who did not want to be named told AFP.
The president’s office said the state of emergency would enable the military to help restore order.
The situation was extremely tense yesterday with groups of men — including Buddhist monks — armed with knives and sticks prowling the streets. Many of the town’s Muslim residents have fled their homes.
A journalist saw the incinerated remains of two victims on a roadside, just one of several reports of bodies in the town, as flames raged from torched mosques and houses while other buildings smoldered unattended.
“The situation is getting worse,” a local resident said. “People are destroying buildings. Many people have been killed. We are scared and trying to stay safe at home.”

A group of reporters were stopped at knifepoint by a gang of young men and monks and forced to hand over their camera memory cards, according to one of the journalists.
It is the worst communal violence since a wave of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year that left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.
A local lawmaker said that about 25 people had been killed in Meiktila, where more than one-third of the population of about 80,000 people is Muslim, but it was not possible to verify his figures.
“The situation is not good... although the government has said everything is under control,” parliamentarian Win Htein, of the opposition National League for Democracy party, told AFP.

He said hundreds of Muslims had taken shelter at a football ground and police compound while Buddhists had sought sanctuary in monasteries.
As international alarm grew, a senior UN official said authorities needed to act “to prevent further loss of life or spread of violence” in the Buddhist-majority nation.
“Religious leaders and other community leaders must also publicly call on their followers to abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace,” Vijay Nambiar, special advisor to UN leader Ban Ki-Moon, said in a statement.
The violence comes as Myanmar struggles with worsening tensions between Muslims and Buddhists that have marred international optimism over dramatic political reforms since the end of military rule two years ago.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 46 min 49 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.