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Muslim and Buddhist clashes leave five injured in Mandalay

Rumors of rape of a Buddhist woman on social media spark violence

<p>Myanmar police stand guard on a street in Mandalay after dispersing hundreds of rioters who targeted Muslim property on Tuesday night (AFP photo)</p>

Myanmar police stand guard on a street in Mandalay after dispersing hundreds of rioters who targeted Muslim property on Tuesday night (AFP photo)

  • John Zaw, Mandalay
  • Myanmar
  • July 2, 2014
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Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay on Tuesday night left five people injured after reports of the rape of a Buddhist woman circulated on social media websites, sparking rioting.

The immediate cause of the clashes remains unknown but five people were injured, including a police officer, when fighting broke out near Zegyo market after reports on social media emerged about the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by her Muslim employers.

Mandalay Division Police Chief Zaw Win Aung told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday that the immediate priority was to restore order.

“We are investigating the matter and will take action against those involved in the mob attack. And we are trying our best to prevent further clashes and will continue the deployment of police until the situation returns to normal,” Zaw Win Aung said.

Police were deployed on Tuesday after reports that Buddhist monks intended to converge on a teashop owned by the alleged attackers, said Zaw Win Aung. An estimated 300 rioters were dispersed by rubber bullets.

Zaw Win Aung added that a rape case had been opened in Pyinmana, near the purpose-built capital Naypyidaw 250km south of Mandalay, the day before the clashes. Police were looking for two Muslim suspects, he added.

Despite a heavy police presence on the streets of Mandalay following the violence, some in the city say much more needs to be done to curb the threat of violence.

“So far, there is not enough security protection for the Muslim community, and police could not do enough to prevent the clash on Tuesday night,” said Aung Zaw Win, a Muslim community leader. 

“They have not arrested anyone involved in the mob attack yet,” he added. “Some Muslim families have fled to other cities.”    

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