Buddhist-Muslim Clashes in Burma Continue
Witnesses reported charred bodies lying in the streets Friday, and say flames continue to pour from several buildings, including mosques, in the town of Meikhtila.
Local lawmakers say at least 20 people have been killed in the clashes, which began Wednesday following an argument between a customer and the Muslim owner of a gold shop.
Authorities have imposed a nighttime curfew and many residents say they are afraid to leave their homes, leaving the city largely deserted except for angry mobs roaming the streets.
The United States and United Nations have called for an end to the violence, Burma’s worst sectarian unrest since last year’s clashes between Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine state.
Amnesty International called the latest violence “very worrying,” saying it shows that tension between the two communities is spreading to other parts of the country.”
A series of 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.