Mosque burnt in fresh Myanmar riots
YANGON - A rampaging mob set fire to a mosque and homes in a central Myanmar town, a police official said Wednesday, the latest outbreak of violence in communal unrest that has left at least 40 people dead.
- Published: 27/03/2013 at 12:09 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Communal riots in have spread closer to the main city Yangon, police said.
The United States warned against travelling to parts of the country in the wake of unrest that has left 40 dead.
A police official said Wednesday a mosque was torched in Nattalin town, 150km north of Yangon.
A Nattalin resident said police were overwhelmed as a mob arrived in the town, setting fire to the mosque before leaving.
"About 200 villagers came to the town last night. But the police could not control the mob... they destroyed the mosque and some houses. Then they left," the resident said.
A video grab shows homes and buildings burning in communal rioting in the Mandalay region.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on three other towns, state media reported, as authorities tried to quell the violence, which flared last Wednesday in Meiktila, 130km north of the capital city Naypyidaw.
Fresh Buddhist-Muslim violence broke out late Monday and again on Tuesday in villages in the Bago region roughly 150km north of Yangon, with several mosques and dozens of homes reported to have been destroyed.
"Police and soldiers had to control the clashes almost the whole night," said a police officer who did not want to be named, adding that another mosque was destroyed on Tuesday in the town of Oakpho.
In a statement on its website, the US Embassy "strongly advised" citizens to avoid travel to the Mandalay region - where the unrest began - as well as to a Muslim neighbourhood in Yangon near the Mingalar Market/Yuzana Plaza.
The clashes are a stark reminder of the challenge that Muslim-Buddhist tensions pose to Myanmar's government as it tries to reform the country after decades of iron-fisted military rule ended two years ago.
UN envoy Vijay Nambiar who recently visited the flashpoint town of Meiktila told reporters on Tuesday that Muslim homes were targeted during the deadly unrest with "brutal efficiency", and that "incendiary propaganda" had been circulating "amongst the various communities" that heightened tensions between them.
Witnesses said the violence appeared to be organised.
Kyaw Thet, a member of the "88 Generation" pro-democracy movement in Sittwin in Bago region, said dozens of strangers on motorcycles arrived late on Monday and destroyed the town's mosque.
"Then they went to a tea shop owned by Muslims and destroyed the inside of the shop," he said by telephone.
"Before they came, we had a blackout in the town and our telephone lines were cut. They also incited people to commit violence," he added.
A resident in nearby Gyobinggauk said local authorities had announced a nighttime curfew over loudspeakers and soldiers had arrived in the town.
The clashes first began on March 20 in Meiktila, 130km north of the capital Naypyidaw, apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into an escalating riot during which mosques were burned, houses razed and charred bodies left lying in the streets.
The US Embassy in Yangon has posted this travel alert.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency