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Soldiers patrol riot-hit Myanmar town

Published on Mar 23, 2013 11:10 AM
A policeman stands guard in a street in riot-hit Meiktila, central Myanmar on March 22, 2013. Myanmar declared a state of emergency on March 22 for a riot-hit town where 20 people have been killed in Buddhist-Muslim violence that has sparked fears of spreading unrest. -- PHOTO: AFP

MEIKTILA, Myanmar (AFP) - Troops patrolled the streets of a central Myanmar town on Saturday after Buddhist-Muslim unrest tore through the area, leaving at least 20 dead and spurring the government to declare emergency rule.

Around 50 military trucks were deployed in Meiktila, where homes and mosques have been torched by mobs armed with knives and sticks in three days of communal rioting.

The clashes are the latest sign of worsening tensions between Muslims and Buddhists, presenting a serious challenge for the quasi-civilian regime as it looks to reform the country after decades of iron-fisted military rule.

Violence in Meiktila, located 130km north of the capital Naypyidaw, began on Wednesday after an apparent argument in a gold shop spiralled into pitched battles.

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