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Muslim Group Condemns Violence in Burma

Soldiers work to clean debris in Meikhtila, March 24, 2013, following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the city.
A Muslim rights group has condemned what it calls the increasing anti-Muslim propaganda and organized killings of Muslims in Burma.

The Arakan Rohingya National Organization released a statement Saturday, saying police and security forces did nothing to control riots in a central Burmese city, where Buddhist-Muslim clashes last week left at least 20 people dead.

On Saturday, Burma's army took control of the ruined city of 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 and restore 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.