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Meiktila: At least 10 people have been killed in riots in central Myanmar, an MP said yesterday, prompting international concern at the country’s worst communal unrest since a wave of Buddhist-Muslim clashes last year.
Huge plumes of black smoke were seen rising above the town of Meiktila after buildings were set ablaze in a second day of fighting in the previously peaceful area, where a night-time curfew was imposed.
Several mosques were reported to have been torched.
The US said it was “deeply concerned” by the unrest, which according to police erupted on Wednesday after an argument in a Muslim-owned gold shop intensified and caused about 200 people to fight in the streets.
Win Htein, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party, said he had seen bodies at the scene of fresh clashes yesterday.
“More than 10 people were killed,” he said from the town, which is his constituency seat.
The unrest comes amid heightened tensions between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.
Communal conflict in a different region, the western state of Rakhine, left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced last year, overshadowing international optimism about the country’s widely praised political reforms since the end of military rule two years ago.
In a brief statement, the US embassy said it was closely monitoring the new violence and extended “deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and property in the violence”. UN resident coordinator Ashok Nigam called for all parties involved “to exercise the utmost tolerance and restraint within their communities”.
A local resident, who asked not to be named, said he had seen “many dead bodies”. “The situation is getting worse. The police cannot control the people,” he said. A photographer who visited the town saw three burned bodies and houses on fire. AFP