Buddhist Monks
Monks Protesting in MyanmarWikimedia Commons

An 11-year-old Burmese girl has died following a police crackdown on a Buddhist mob in Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Nyo Thein May was staying at the World Food Programme's office in Sittwe, when it was set upon by Buddhists who pelted the homes of several relief organisation with stones.

The girl was allegedly hit by a stray bullet, while police fired above the heads of the mob to disperse them. She died in hospital.

"I think Nyo Thein May, 11, was hit accidently by security forces when they fired warning shots to disperse people," Police Lieutenant Colonel Min Aung told Timeslives. 

The incident was sparked after a US relief worker took down a Buddhist religious flag from her rented residence.

"A female European staff member allegedly took off a religious flag put up near her office by local people as a gesture of boycotting the government-sponsored census," Aung Mra Kyaw, an official from the Rakhine National Party, told Reuters. 

Ahead of a census the Burmese government intends to carry out, Buddhist flags have been hung on many houses. The flags are a symbol of protest against the upcoming census, which Rakhine Buddhist residents have strongly opposed.

Rakhine State has lately been the scene of repeated violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Buddhists deny that the Rohingya exist, and claim they are Bengalis and belong in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Both the US and European Union condemned the attacks on the foreign aid workers in Sittwe.

"We are very concerned by the wave of hostilities targeting international organisations which provide essential assistance to local communities and the most vulnerable in the Rakhine State of Myanmar," said Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

Earlier this month, Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) was ordered to suspend its operations in Rakhine state following local protests against its alleged support of Rohingya villagers who had been attacked by Rakhine Buddhists.

At least 237 have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 have been displaced.