Sunday, 31 March 2013

Myanmar sets up emergency committee to handle sectarian violence

March 31, 2013 1:41 pm

Yangon - Myanmar has set up an emergency committee to cope with sectarian violence that claimed at least 43 lives this month, state media said Sunday.

President Thein Sein ordered it "to prevent instigation across the country, to expose main instigators of riots and to take action against them," the New Light of Myanmar reported.

The nine-person committee is headed by Home Minister Ko Ko, with presidential advisor Aung Min as vice chairman.

Thein Sein, who came to power two years ago, vowed to use force to curb clashes between Buddhist and Muslim communities that broke out in Meiktila, Mandalay division, on March 20. Unrest has spread to other districts in central Myanmar and the southern Bago region, prompting authorities to impose dusk-to-dawn curfews in 15 townships.

The violence left 43 dead, 86 injured and more than 11,000 homeless, leading to 68 arrests.

The rioting was sparked by an argument in a gold shop in Mandalay division, where Muslims account for 30 per cent of the population, an unusually high proportion in the mainly Buddhist country.

The Home Ministry has estimated that 1,355 houses, shops and buildings were destroyed. More than 9,000 people were in temporary refuges.

In May, clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya-Muslims in the Rakhine State left at least 167 people dead and 125,000 homeless.//DPA

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