YANGON: Buddhist-Muslim clashes have left two dead in Myanmar’s second-largest city, authorities said yesterday, after a rape accusation triggered a new round of sectarian rioting in the former military-ruled nation.
Angry mobs rampaged through Mandalay for a second straight night in the latest of several waves of sectarian unrest that have exposed deep religious tensions in the Buddhist-majority Southeast Asian nation.
Inter-communal violence has overshadowed widely praised political reforms since erupting in 2012. It has largely targeted Muslims, leaving at least 250 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.
Buddhist rioters, some armed with sticks and knives, attacked a Muslim tea shop on Tuesday and surrounding property in downtown Mandalay after an accusation of rape, according to local police.
Security forces fired rubber bullets in the early hours of Wednesday to try and disperse the crowds.
Unrest then broke out again late Wednesday despite an increase in security, with pockets of violence flaring across the centre of the city of some seven million people.
“Two men were killed” in attacks late Wednesday and until yesterday, Zaw Min Oo, a senior police officer said.
He said one of the victims was Buddhist and one was Muslim. In a monthly radio address, Myanmar’s reformist President Thein Sein called for an end to religious hatred.
“As our country is a multi-racial and -religious nation, the current reform process will be successful only when stability is maintained through the co-operation of all the citizens by living harmoniously with one another,” he said according to an official transcript. AFP