(People collect pieces of metal from the rubble of a neighbourhood in Pauktaw township that was burned in recent violence October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Muslim survivors of six days of sectarian violence in western Myanmar tell of fleeing bullets and burning homes to escape on fishing boats after an attack by once-peaceable Rakhine neighbours.

The United Nations said 22,587 people had now been displaced after unrest between Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines claimed at least 84 lives i n Rakhine State and tested the reformist mettle of the quasi-civilian government that replaced Myanmar’s oppressive ruling junta last year.

“We were told to stay in our homes but then they were set on fire,” said Ashra Banu, 33, a mother of four who fled the coastal town of Kyaukpyu after its Muslim quarter was razed on Oct. 24.

“When we ran out people were being shot at by Rakhines and police,” she said on Sunday. “We couldn’t put out the fires. We just tried to run.”