Fresh unrest hits Myanmar after woman "torched"

Featured South East Asia - May 29th, 2013
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A town in eastern Myanmar was left in chaos after mobs rioted through the village, razing dozens of homes and mosques in a fresh bout of violence that was allegedly sparked by a man who set a Buddhist woman alight.

The Muslim man reportedly doused the woman with fuel and set her on fire during a quarrel at a petrol station where she worked, a police officer in the Shan capital of Lashio told AFP on condition of anonymity.

After police detained the man, local Buddhists surrounded the police station and demanded he be handed over. The police refused, triggering the rampage that saw mosques and other public places go up in flames.

Phone lines were down and the extent of the violence was unclear. Some reports say the violence spread to a mountainous region near China’s border.

A curfew was imposed late Tuesday to disperse angry mobs, an official said. “Fires have been put out at some places in the town… the situation is under control now”.

The woman was taken to a hospital, but her condition was not immediately known.

Religious unrest between Buddhists and minority Muslims has erupted several times since a quasi-civilian government took the reins in March 2011. At least 44 people were killed and thousands displaced in the violent clashes.