Myanmar declares state of emergency over riots
Myanmar has imposed a state of emergency in the central town of Meikhtila after three days of fighting between Buddhists and Muslims that has left up to 20 people dead and dozens more injured. The clashes have intensified fears that last year's sectarian violence between Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya minority in western Myanmar's Rakhine State is now spreading to the Myanmar heartland.
Up to 180 people died in those clashes and another 120,000, mostly Rohingya, were forced to flee their homes. Reports from Meikhtila, a town 90 miles south of Mandalay, described scenes of devastation, with charred bodies lying in the streets and mosques and Muslim-owned businesses burnt to the ground.
Gangs of Buddhists – including monks – are reported to be roaming the town attacking Muslims, hundreds of whom have taken refuge in a football stadium. With the police unable to control the fighting, Thein Sein, the Myanmar president imposed martial law on Meikhtila yesterday and sent in the army.
The unrest was provoked on Wednesday after an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a shop escalated into a riot. (© Daily Telegraph, London)