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Tensions high after Buddhist mob attacks village mosque

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YANGON — Scores of police have been deployed to guard a village in central Myanmar where religious tensions are running high after a Buddhist mob destroyed a mosque, authorities said Saturday.

An angry mob of around 200 Buddhists rampaged through a Muslim area of a village in Bago province following an argument between neighbours over the building of a Muslim school.

It is the latest flare-up of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, which has seen sporadic bouts of religious bloodshed since 2012, with a surge of Buddhist nationalism presenting a key challenge for Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government.

Own Lwin, the local police chief, said the atmosphere remained tense with around 100 police officers deployed to keep the peace.

He said there had been rumours that there might be more unrest, adding that no arrests have been made over the destruction of the mosque.

Win Shwe, the mosque’s secretary, said Muslim residents feared for their safety and were planning to move to a nearby town until the tension cools.

“Our situation is not safe and now we are planning to leave the village … We still feel afraid,” he said.

Strident anti-Muslim sentiment has fomented across Myanmar in recent years, with outbreaks of violence threatening to unravel democratic gains since the former junta stepped down in 2011.

The worst religious violence struck central Myanmar and western Rakhine State, which is home to the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, tens of thousands of whom still languish in displacement camps after rioting.

Hardline monks and Buddhist nationalists fiercely oppose moves to recognise the Rohingya as an official minority and insist on calling them “Bengalis” — shorthand for illegal migrants from the border with Bangladesh.

Ms Suu Kyi, a vocal champion for human rights, has been criticised for not taking a stronger stance on the Rohingya or the abuse they face.

This month the UN warned violations against the group could amount to “crimes against humanity”.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, now leading Myanmar’s first civilian government in decades, asked for “space” while her administration sought to build trust between religious communities.

AFP

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One killed, two injured in jeep accident

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BAJURA— A jeep driver lost his life while two passengers sustained injuries in a jeep accident at Budhiganga Municipality in Bajura on Thursday.

The jeep (Se 1 Ja 543) en route to Martadi from Khaptad Chhededaha Rural Municipality met accident after the jeep lost balance and fell some 100 meters off the road.

According to the Bajura District Police Office, driver Dhan Bahadur Saud, 40, of Tribeni Municipality died on the spot while Saud’s son Nawaraj, 22, and Kumbha Budha of Khaptad Chhededaha Rural Municipality were injured in the incident.

The injured are receiving treatment at Bayalpata Hospital, Achham.

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