“The group claims it killed 17 Burmese soldiers in its first ambush of a military convoy, and “a few days ago they slaughtered three men including a Buddhist monk.” The claims could not be confirmed.As tensions between Rohingya Muslims in Burma and the government have escalated over the past several years, calls for jihad in the South Asia country from numerous jihadist groups have increased.Other groups that have offered support for Burmese Muslims include the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Shabaab, al Qaeda, and various jihadist media outlets.
The call for jihad is a response to the escalated violence between Muslims and the Buddhist majority, especially in Rakhine state. Reuters reports:
“Most of the 1.1 million Rohingya of Rakhine state are denied citizenship and refused passports. Last year’s communal unrest in Rakhine made 140,000 homeless, most of them Rohingya. Myanmar’s government says 192 people died; Rohingya activists put the toll as high as 748.The Rohingya exodus, and the state measures that fuel it, undermine Myanmar’s carefully crafted image of ethnic reconciliation and stability that helped persuade the United States and Europe to suspend most sanctions.”
The escalation of ethnic tension and the arrival of an al-Qaeda affiliate should further temper Western optimism about Myanmar’s future. The country has opened considerably in recent years, but violent eruptions like these make foreign investors wary and serve as a reminder that peace and prosperity won’t dawn in Burma anytime soon.[Image of the sun rising over Burma courtesy of Shutterstock]