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Curfew imposed in Myanmar as gang violence escalates

Myanmar News
07 Jul 2014, 08:57 GMT+10

YANGON, Myanmar - A curfew has been imposed in Myanmar's second-largest city, Mandalay, following several nights of deadly violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Rioting and street fights erupted Tuesday, taking authorities by surprise and leading to at least two deaths and 14 injuries at the time of writing.

The violence reportedly broke out when a mob began attacking a tea shop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a Buddhist woman.

One of the victims was Muslim and one Buddhist, officials said. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, with Muslims estimated to account for about 5% of the population.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper has reported that as many as 450 people in several separate gangs have been involved in the unrest, armed with weapons including swords, firearms, knives, rods and "incendiary materials."

Myanmar's fragile political reforms have been threatened in recent years by sporadic outbreaks of violence against the Muslim minority, with some Myanmar experts warning that continued unrest may prompt the military to reverse course on the country's emergence from decades of dictatorial rule.

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