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More curfews as attacks continue

Tensions rise as mobs burn mosques and houses

A woman returns to her burned house in Melkhtila to search for belongings A woman returns to her burned house in Melkhtila to search for belongings
  • Thomas Toe, Yangon and John Zaw, Mandalay, AFP
  • Myanmar
  • March 27, 2013
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Despite government pledges anti-Muslims riots continue, with one mosque and 10 houses destroyed early this morning in a village in the Bago region. 

The army has moved in and the situation is quiet but under tight security, said Aung Zaw, a police officer from Nattalin town. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in three other nearby townships struck by the violence that first broke out in central Myanmar a week ago. 

The quasi-civilian government has faced strong international pressure over the unrest, which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says has displaced more than 12,000 people.

State reports say 40 people have died, but eyewitnesses say the number could be higher.

UN envoy Vijay Nambiar told reporters at the UN headquarters in Thailand the attacks “seemed to have been done, in a sense, in almost a kind of brutal efficiency.”

he added: "Most of the people I spoke to tended to suggest the attacks were perpetrated by people they did not really recognize, and they may have been outsiders. But clearly they were targeted." 

Locals have described the attackers as outsiders who then disappeared. 

On Monday night, a mosque, shops and some houses were burned in Gyobingauk, Bago. Similar attacks occurred in nearby Otepho and Minhla on Sunday night, state-run television reported.

“As the government is now imposing a curfew, the situation has calmed down and there is tight security,” said a doctor from Gyobingauk who goes only by the name Thomas.

Tensions have also risen in the country’s largest city, Yangon, where restaurants, shops and hair saloons are closing at 9 pm under local orders.

The clashes were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop in Meikhtila last Wednesday. 

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