Buddhists, Islamists clash in Myanmar

Anti-Muslim mobs rampaged through three more towns in Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist heartland over the weekend, destroying mosques and burning dozens of homes despite government efforts to stem the nation's latest outbreak of sectarian violence.

President Thein Sein had declared an emergency in central Myanmar on Friday and deployed army troops to the worst-hit city, Meikhtila, where 32 people were killed and 10,000 mostly Muslim residents were displaced. But even as soldiers restored order there after several days of anarchy in which armed Buddhists torched the city’s Muslim quarters, the unrest has spread south toward the capital, Naypyitaw.

A Muslim resident of Tatkone, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Meikhtila, said by telephone that a group of about 20 men ransacked a one-story brick mosque there late Sunday night, pelting it with stones and smashing windows before soldiers fired shots to drive them away. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said he believed the perpetrators were not from Tatkone.

A day earlier, another mob burned down a mosque and 50 homes in the town of Yamethin. It was not immediately clear who was behind the violence, and no clashes or casualties were reported in the three towns.

Edginess over the situation spread on Monday to the nation's largest city, Yangon, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Meikhtila, although no actual unrest was apparent.

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