KYAUKTAW, Myanmar, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The number of people killed in six days of unrest in western Myanmar reached at least 112 on Friday as security forces used deadly force to break up the worst sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in years.
The United Nations warned that Myanmar's fledgling democracy could be "irreparably damaged" by the clashes, which come just five months after communal unrest killed more than 80 people and displaced at least 75,000 in the same region
Ethnic Buddhist Rakhines told Reuters they were shot by security forces struggling to impose order on Rakhine State, where violence with Rohingya Muslims has engulfed several districts, including Kyaukpyu where a multibillion-dollar China-Myanmar pipeline starts.
The escalating death toll, which has doubled from Wednesday, severely tests the reformist government's ability to contain historic ethnic and religious tensions suppressed during nearly a half century of military rule that ended last year.
"The fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardised," a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that described the violence as "deeply troubling".
"The widening mistrust between the communities is being exploited by militant and criminal elements to cause large-scale loss of human lives."
Win Myaing, information officer of Rakhine State government, said 112 people, including 61 women, had been killed and 72 had been wounded as of Friday.
At least 2,000 houses and eight religious buildings had been destroyed by Wednesday, according to a statement from the president's office issued late on Thursday. (Reporting by Reuters staff reporters; Writing by Andrew R.C. Marshall; Editing by Jason Szep and Robert Birsel)