Muslim homes left smouldering after night of mob violence in Htan Gone

Reporting by AFP

Hundreds of Muslim people have been made homeless in Sagaing Division after rioters looted and burned homes, shops and at least one mosque in the village of Htan Gone on Saturday night. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

Local officials were quoted as saying that calm had returned to the town although dozens of buildings belonging to Muslims were left in charred ruins.

Myint Naing a local MP for the opposition National League for Democracy, told AFP that 160 men and 158 women who had lost their homes had taken shelter in a local school.

The report said 12 people had been arrested in relation to the unrest, which began after a Muslim youth was detained by police on suspicion of attempting to rape a Buddhist woman in the village on Saturday evening.

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A crowd of about 150 people and three Buddhist monks gathered at the local police station demanding that the accused be handed over to them, according to a message on the Ministry of Information website on Sunday. When the police refused, the crowd attacked Muslim property in the area.

According to Burma’s state-run New Light of Myanmar, the accused youth was transferred into custody in Shwebo, some 100 km southeast of Htan Gone; however the crowd grew in numbers and a mob began torching buildings, including houses, a poultry farm, two shops and a rice brokerage.

Security forces confronted the mob and at least one shot was fired into the air to quell the unrest. Members of the crowd then attempted to prevent firefighters tackling the blaze by hurling stones from catapults. At about 1.15 am a second shot was fired by the police to try to disperse the crowd.

Several regional ministers or their assistants travelled to Htan Gone on Sunday to meet local officials and discuss measures to prevent violence from happening in the town again, New Light of Myanmar said.

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