AP A government official says late Thursday that 56 people have been killed and almost 2000 homes burned down in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in western Burma (Myanmar).
Two callers who said they are Rohingya from the Sittwe area contacted reporters this afternoon by mobile telephone.
One man claimed that 90 men, women and children who were ordered to leave the town area, had been herded into a boat, then fired upon.
The other man said there was a general push underway in Burma to complete the expulsion of unwanted Rohingya from Rakhine province, where clashes in June sparked scores of deaths and the burning of villages.
Some non-government aid agencies fear that the fresh round of disturbing reports, flowing to other media as well as Phuketwan, may mark Phase II of a long-suspected plan to drive the unwanted Rohingya out of Burma.
Phuketwan, like other media, cannot confirm the reports. But the telephone calls and conversations are flowing and it does seem likely a general movement of some kind is underway.
Today unverifiable reports were coming that refugees who had fled further south seeking sanctuary were also being persecuted.
More than 1000 homes were said to have been burned down earlier this week in Rakhine, with the Burmese government confirming four dead. It was the first serious outbreak of violence since June,when fighting left about 75,000 Rohingya and 5000 Buddhists homeless.
Yesterday, we were told, students demonstrated in the streets of Sittwe demanding that the Rohingya be pushed out of Rakhine, where some say they have lived for centuries.
Britain's Channel Four reporter John Sparks writes today of ''disturbing allegations'' from Burma suggesting that a major new wave of violence, killings and house burnings in the northwest state is taking place.
Senior members of the Muslim Rohingya community say that more than 100 Rohingya were killed on Tuesday and 440 houses burnt by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in a village called Yaing Thay, in the northern part of the state.
Local Rohingya have accused the police of participating in the violence and shooting members of their community, Channel Four reports.
In one telephone call to Phuketwan, a man who gave a single name, which is typical of many Rohingya, said he had been told of a group of 90 people in a boat being fired upon.
When the boat returned to shore, the men were shot dead and the women were raped, he told us. The boatload was one of many boatloads of people who had been forced to take to the sea, he said.
Another caller said that at least 1000 people had been forced to flee into the mountains around Sittwe for fear of their lives.
Up to 800,000 Rohingya live in abject conditions along the border with Bangladesh. Bangladeshi authorities turned away boatloads of Rohingya fleeing the violence in June.
In the past few years boatloads of Rohingya fleeing Burma for a better life have landed on Phuket and along the Andaman coast north and south of Phuket.
After Phuketwan and the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong exposed the secret and inhumane ''pushbacks'' of boats from Thailand in 2009, authorities adopted a different approach.
Now military vessels and volunteers along the coast ''help on'' the boats to other destinations, trying to prevent any boats from actually landing in Thailand.
The boats usually flow along the Andaman coast between October and April, when conditions at sea are safer than during the deadly monsoons.