World Bulletin / News Desk
Anti-Muslim rioters wielding sticks and rocks have attacked villagers and houses on the outskirts of Myanmar’s main city of Yangon.
Riot police moved in swinging batons to disperse a mob of at least 100 people in Hlegu, about 24 miles (40 kilometers) north of the city. Hlegu is now under curfew between 6am and 6pm and officials say the situation is calm.
Sann Aung, who owns a shop selling agricultural machinery in the village, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday that two Muslim houses were ransacked by a group of around 40 rioters during the violence which occurred late Friday.
He added that he saw a group of 20 to 30 Buddhists form on the village’s main road.
They chanted: “We want to kill Muslims,” he said.
It is the first time this year that sectarian clashes, often confined to more remote regions further north, have broken out near Yangon, the country's former capital.
At least five villagers were injured in the attacks and some police officers sustained head injuries as people hurled stones, according to local media. No one was reported killed.
The riot started after rivalry between two neighbouring shops descended into a brawl on Friday afternoon.
According to police and villagers, an 18-year-old Muslim man stabbed a 20-year-old Buddhist in the eye with a pair of scissors during the fight. The 18-year-old and two other Muslims have been arrested over the incident.
An angry crowd of Buddhists formed shortly after the fight and began attacking Muslim homes.
Late last month, hundreds of Buddhists rampaged through Sittwe, in the northwest of the country. They attacked the homes and offices of foreign aid agency workers, who they claim are biased towards Muslims.
Myanmar has been plagued by anti-Muslim violence after a brutal military dictatorship gave way to a quasi-civilian government in 2011.
The reform process has been widely praised, but has also unleashed long-simmering hatred amidst a growing surge of Buddhist nationalism.Last Mod: 05 Nisan 2014, 15:36