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Bomb attack as hardline Myanmar monk gives sermon

Five injured as controversial Buddhist Ashin Wirathu speaks

<p>Wirathu claims he has been attacked twice since appearing on the TIME magazine cover Picture: AFP/Ye Aung Thu </p>

Wirathu claims he has been attacked twice since appearing on the TIME magazine cover Picture: AFP/Ye Aung Thu 

  • John Zaw, Mandalay and Daniel Wynn, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • July 22, 2013
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A small explosion injured five during a sermon given by the divisive Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu in Mandalay on Sunday.

The explosive device was placed under a car nearby on the street where the sermon took place just 18 meters from where the hardline monk was speaking, police said.

“We are investigating the process of the explosion and will file a case,” said Soe Nyein of Mandalay police.

A young novice was among the wounded. A woman was receiving treatment in hospital on Sunday night.

Wirathu is the figurehead of an anti-Muslim movement in the wake of deadly rioting that killed about 200 people in western Rakhine state last year. He is campaigning for a law to ban marriages between Buddhist women and non-Buddhist men.

The monk said it was the second such attack he had faced since he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine this month, labeled as the face of “Buddhist terror.”

“It may be a target to delay my movement giving sermons and the inter-marriage law promoting effort,” said Wirathu. “I have already been reminded by senior monks and other people to take care of my security.”

Meanwhile, an emergency presidential order was lifted in central Meikhtila on Saturday, following rioting between Muslims and Buddhists which left 44 dead there in March.

The move was made because “peace and order had been restored,” state press reported, but a curfew between 10pm and 4am will continue.

“We now have 370 anti-riot police guarding the city so the security situation will not be weakened by the absence of the army on the streets,” said Tin Maung Soe, chairman of Meikhtila district.

He added that life had returned to normal in the city, home of the country’s air force, with shops and banks reopening.

However, more than 7,000 Muslim refugees remain displaced in temporary shelters outside the city which remains deeply divided, according to residents.

“There is a clear lack of trust on both sides of the Buddhist and Muslim communities,” said Mawgyi, a Buddhist in Meikhtila. “Once a small accident breaks out involving both sides then another round of violence will erupt, I’m sure.”

San Lwin, a local Muslim leader, said the authorities have decided not to let the refugees go back to their original houses as part of what he claimed to be a scheme to confiscate the land to build apartments.

“The authorities and local Buddhist businessmen are colluding with each other to take away our land,” he said, adding that Muslim children could not yet attend school. “We have no idea when and how our lives will return to normal.”

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