Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu left Wednesday to observe the situation in Myanmar, from where he said Turkey was receiving "conflicting information" regarding deadly religious violence.
ANKARA- "The administration (in Myanmar) says the deaths are around a hundred... but the Muslim leaders in Rakhine, with whom we have been in contact, say the deaths reach thousands," Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara before his departure.
Davutoglu is taking along medical supplies and donations collected by Turkey's Red Crescent to deliver to "probably more than 50,000 Muslims and 20,000 Buddhists" who have been displaced from their homes by the conflict.
"The information we have, the international community has, is a very conflicting one," he said.
Fighting in western Rakhine state between local Buddhists and stateless Muslim Rohingya has killed 80 people from both sides since June, with six reportedly killed on Sunday, according to Myanmar authorities.
The Turkish foreign minister said he had to go himself and "observe the situation on the ground" to have healthy information, but his main purpose was "to make sure help reaches those people in no time."
The Turkish aid, his ministry claimed in a statement Wednesday, was the first foreign humanitarian assistance Myanmar had accepted, apart from support received through a United Nations campaign.
The violence initially broke out in June following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.
The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
Myanmar's government considers the estimated 800,000 Rohingya in the country to be foreigners while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.
Southeast Asian nations are also considering humanitarian assistance for Muslim-minority Rohingya facing "pain and suffering" in Myanmar, the head of the ASEAN regional bloc said Wednesday.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretary general Surin Pitsuwan said the bloc should be "part of solution to the problem."