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Communal in Violence in Burma Leaves 10 Dead; Mosque Burned

VOA News:
March 21, 2013

Authorities in
central Burma have imposed a curfew following sectarian unrest that left at
least 10 people dead and two Muslim religious buildings destroyed.

The clashes broke out
Wednesday following an argument between a customer and the Muslim owner of a
gold shop in the main bazaar in the Mandalay city of Meikhtila.

The dispute turned
violent when hundreds of Buddhists and Muslims descended upon the shop. Police
say several buildings, including a mosque and an Islamic school, were burned.  




Officials say a
Buddhist monk was among at least 10 people killed. Over 20 others were injured.
The situation was reported to have been brought under control after police
imposed a curfew at nightfall, but police say violence broke out again on
Thursday.

The U.S. ambassador
to Burma, Derek Mitchell, said in a brief statement he is “deeply
concerned” about the violence and extends his “deepest
condolences” to those affected.

The unrest highlights
the tensions between Burma’s majority Buddhists and minority Muslims.

Clashes
last year in Rakhine State killed about 200 people and left more than 100,000
others homeless, mainly ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

During the Rakhine
unrest, several rights groups accused Burmese security forces of failing to
protect both Buddhists and Muslims. Human Rights Watch says security forces
then “unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the
Rohingya.”

Since then, rights
groups say anti-Muslim leaflets have been distributed at some monasteries in
several areas of the country, with many warning of additional violence against
Muslims.

The United Nations
says the Rohingya people are among the world’s most persecuted minority groups.
They are denied citizenship and many other basic rights in Burma, where they
are regarded as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.