News / Asia

Burma Army Patrols Riot-Struck City

A man walks past homes burned down during the riot in Meikhtila, March 23, 2013.
A man walks past homes burned down during the riot in Meikhtila, March 23, 2013.
VOA News
Burma's army has taken control of a ruined central city, where Buddhist-Muslim clashes during this past week left at least 20 people dead.

Truckloads of soldiers could be seen on Saturday patrolling Meikhtila, about 130 kilometers north of the administrative capital of Naypyidaw.

The violence began Wednesday when an argument between a Buddhist customer and a Muslim shopkeeper spilled into the street. By Friday, entire neighborhoods had been burned to the ground, mosques had been reduced to ashes and gangs of Buddhists and Muslims roamed the streets.

President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in the region Friday, allowing the military to move in and impose a tense calm. Emergency workers have been handing out food to Buddhists and Muslims, and finding shelter for displaced residents.

The rioting was the worst communal violence since a wave of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year that left around 200 people dead and more than 100,000 others displaced.

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