Two dead in Buddhist-Muslim unrest in Myanmar: Police

YANGON (AFP) - Two people have been killed during Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar's second-largest city of Mandalay, police said Thursday.

"There are two dead," a police officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP by telephone, without providing further details.

Police fired rubber bullets during the night on Tuesday into Wednesday to disperse hundreds of rioters, some armed with sticks and knives, who took to the streets and attacked a Muslim teashop after an accusation of rape, the authorities said.

Myanmar has been shaken by several waves of sectarian conflict in recent years that have cast a shadow over its emergence from decades of repressive military rule.

At least 250 people have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless since 2012 by inter-communal violence that has largely targeted Muslims.

Radical monks have been accused of stoking religious tensions with fiery warnings that Buddhism is under threat from Islam.

A prominent hardline monk, Wirathu, posted a link to online allegations against the teashop owners on his Facebook page just hours before the latest unrest flared up.

Rioters smashed or set fire to several cars and threw bricks and bottles at some houses, according to the state-controlled New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

It said that about 450 rioters with sticks and knives took to the streets, despite an increased security presence.

"We are investigating this riot and will take action against those involved in the mob attack," Mandalay police chief Zaw Win Aung was quoted as saying.

He said extra security forces would be deployed to restore order.