News / Asia

Sectarian Violence Continues in Burma

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VOA News
Sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in central Burma is spreading, despite a state of emergency and the deployment of security forces.

The latest violence occurred Sunday in towns south of Meikhtila, the city worst hit by rioting and arson.

On Saturday, Burma's army took control of Meikhtila, about 130 kilometers north of the administrative capital of Naypyidaw. Officials say more than 20 people have been killed in that city.

The Arakan Rohingya National Organization, a Muslim rights group, released a statement Saturday saying police and security forces did nothing to control riots in .

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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