Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:31 pm
Myanmar forces fire warning shots to break up mobs
The Associated Press
The evening TV report said there were attacks against "religious buildings," shops and houses on Tuesday and Wednesday in Bago region north of Yangon, and warning shots were fired to stop the unrest. No casualties were reported.
It said curfews and a ban on public gatherings were imposed in two more townships, bringing the total to nine.
Residents contacted by phone said the targets were Muslims.
Occasional isolated violence involving majority Buddhists and minority Muslims has occurred for decades, even under the authoritarian military governments that ruled the country from 1962 to 2011. But tensions have heightened since last year when hundreds of people were killed and more than 100,000 made homeless in violence in western Myanmar between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.
The recent religious unrest began March 20 with rioting by Buddhists in the central city of Meikhtila that was sparked by a dispute between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers. Authorities say calm has been restored there after at least 40 people died over three days.
State newspapers said Meikhtila is still under tight security and a state of emergency is still in place in order to prevent a recurrence of the violence.
Mar Mar, a resident of Okapho town, said a group of 50 people "came to destroy a few Muslim houses" on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday afternoon. She said soldiers have been deployed in downtown Oakpho but security personnel did not arrive in time to stop the violence.
A resident of nearby Min Hla, speaking on condition of anonymity because of concerns about her safety, said two mosques and some shops were destroyed Wednesday and soldiers had to fire into the air to disperse the mob.
Incidents were also reported in the townships of Nattalin and Zeegon. All are less than 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Yangon, the country's biggest city.