Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Two dead after violence in Burma

Two people have died following violent clashes in Burma (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Two people have died following violent clashes in Burma (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

Two people are dead and 14 injured after Buddhist mobs on motorbikes drove through Burma's historic city of Mandalay in a second night of attacks on minority Muslims.

Authorities have imposed a 9pm to 5am curfew in response to the violence, which was announced by cars mounted with loud speakers driving through the city.

The dead included a Muslim man, who residents said was on his way to a mosque before dawn when he was attacked by the mob and left dead in the street. The second victim was a Buddhist man, whose cause of death is under investigation.

"More than 100 motorbikes drove through the city (Wednesday) night throwing stones at mosques and shouting abuse and singing the national anthem to taunt the Muslim people," said Win Mya Mya, a Muslim resident and senior member of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy.

He and others blamed police for failing to control the Buddhist mobs.

Mandalay region chief minister Ye Myint told media that four people were arrested. He did not reveal the identities or religion of the victims or those detained for fear it might inflame the situation.

Burma, a predominantly Buddhist nation, has been grappling with violence since 2012 that has left up to 280 people dead and another 140,000 homeless, most of them Muslims attacked by Buddhist extremists. Most of the violence has taken place in western Rakhine state.

The latest outbreak that started on Tuesday night was a first in Mandalay, in central Burma, the second-largest city and an important economic hub and centre of Buddhist culture and learning where Muslims and Buddhists have traditionally lived peacefully together.

In a radio address on Thursday, president Thein Sein raised the country's need for stability as it transitions to democracy from a half-century of military rule - but did not mention Mandalay specifically.

"For reforms to be successful, I would like to urge all to avoid instigation and behaviour that incites hatred in our fellow citizens," Thein Sein said.

In addition to the curfew, officials also banned meetings of more than five people, said Mandalay resident Khin Maung Latt.

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