Riots prompt state of emergency
MEIKHTILA, Myanmar — Mobs set fire to Muslim homes and mosques in frenzied sectarian rioting in a town in central Myanmar, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 6,000 homeless amid growing fears today that the latest bout of Muslim-Buddhist bloodshed could spread.
In an acknowledgement of the seriousness of the situation, President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Meikhtila in an announcement broadcast on state television Friday afternoon. The declaration allows the military to take over administrative functions in and around the town.
The government’s struggle to contain the unrest is proving another major challenge for Thein Sein’s reformist administration as it attempts to chart a path to democracy after nearly half a century of military rule that once crushed all dissent.
Troubles began Wednesday after an argument broke out between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers.