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Communal in Violence in Burma Leaves 10 Dead; Mosque Burned

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.

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