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The situation in the central Burmese town of Meikhtila is calm after the murder of a man on Saturday provoked fresh rumours that an outbreak of communal violence was imminent.
According to Pol-Maj Maung Shwe, commander of Meikhtila Township Police, the murder of Pho Pyu by his brothers in law was fuelled by a family dispute and was in no way linked to racial or religious background.
“The murder was the result of a family dispute between various brothers in law,” said the police chief. “The victim used to be a Muslim but he converted to Buddhism, while the assailants are Muslim. They got in a fight after one of the men’s wives left home following a row with her husband.”
Pol-Maj Maung Shwe confirmed that the three brother-in-laws had been arrested.
“We are charging the three brothers – Aung Zaw Htwe, who stabbed the victim; Zaw Myo Htwe, who witnesses say shot at him with a catapult; and Pho Ni – for murdering the victim, known as Pho Pyu.”
He said the situation in the town was normal although some residents had voiced concern that the incident may fuel further unrest in the town, which saw bloody anti-Muslim riots last March, leaving dozens dead and over 10,000 homeless.
The senior police officer added that measures had been prepared to deal with any resumption of violence.
Burma’s state-run New Light of Myanmar confirmed the story on Sunday, though it reported that Pho Ni had in fact been stabbed by Pho Pyu after the former intervened in to stop the quarrel.
Pho Ni is currently being treated at Meiktila Hospital while Aung Zaw Htwe and Zaw Myo Htwe have been detained at Meiktila Prison, the report said.
The New Light report concluded: “The local authority said it was just a case happened in the family [sic] and requested not to believe the rumors created by those who wish to resort to violence, according to the officials.”