Burma Muslim-Buddhist clashes continue in Shan state
- 29 May 2013
- From the section Asia
Buddhists and Muslims have have clashed for a second day in the northern Burmese town of Lashio.
Buddhist youths armed with sticks roamed the streets in search of Muslim residents to attack, state media say.
Police said at least one person died on Wednesday and Muslim-owned houses and businesses had been set alight.
The clashes were sparked a day earlier by rumours that a Muslim man had doused a Buddhist woman with fuel and set het alight at a petrol station.
Recent months have seen a number of clashes between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Burma.
The violence in Lashio, the capital of Burma's north-eastern Shan state, has spread from western and central regions where tens of thousands of Muslims have been driven from their homes.
The unrest reportedly erupted on Tuesday evening after police refused to hand over to a crowd the man accused of setting the Buddhist woman alight.
Officials said mobs set fire to buildings, although the full extent of the unrest remained unclear.
The woman had been taken to hospital and the man was in police custody, reports said. The authorities imposed a curfew in the town on Tuesday night, according to residents.
The fresh outbreak of clashes on Wednesday came despite claims from the authorities that soldiers and police had restored calm.
Four people were wounded in fighting that began at about 14:00 local time (07:30 GMT), presidential spokesman Ye Htut said in a Facebook post.
One man was "hacked to death", he was reported as saying by the news agency AFP. Police fired guns to disperse rioters.
A Muslim orphanage and a mosque were thought to be among the buildings torched. The Associated Press said Buddhist monks were taking part in the unrest.
Many Buddhists and Muslims stayed locked inside their homes and shops were closed across the town.
"Damaging religious buildings and creating religious riots is inappropriate for the democratic society we are trying to create,'' Ye Htut said on Facebook.
"Any criminal act will be dealt with according to the law."
Wave of violence
In March, at least 43 people - mostly Muslims - died in violence that erupted after an argument at a Muslim-owned shop in the central town of Meiktila.
The owner of the shop and nine other Muslims were imprisoned last month for that outbreak of violence. As yet no Buddhists have been convicted over the Meiktila clashes.
Ethnic violence in Rakhine state last year left nearly 200 people dead and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.
The conflict that erupted in Rakhine involved Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, who are not recognised as Burmese citizens.
The communities remain largely segregated in the wake of the violence, with many displaced Rohingya Muslims living in tents or temporary camps.
Human rights groups have criticised Burmese authorities for being complicit in the persecution of the Rohingya.