Myanmar police fire shots to end sectarian riot in Mandalay

YANGON (REUTERS) - Myanmar police fired shots on Wednesday to disperse crowds of Buddhists and Muslims facing off in the streets of Mandalay, the country's second-largest city, police sources and a witness said.

Myanmar has been racked by violence between the two communities since June 2012. More than 200 people have been killed and at least 140,000 displaced. Most of the victims have been Muslim.

Five people were injured during the rioting in Mandalay, including a police officer, said two officers who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

A witness who lives in the mostly Muslim neighbourhood said a Buddhist mob had gathered late on Tuesday after rumours spread that the Muslim owner of a tea shop had raped a Buddhist woman. No evidence of such an attack was immediately available.

Police stood between the groups and tried to drive the Buddhists away, the witness said.

"The police and the crowd fought each other and the crowd threw stones at the police," he said, asking not to be named out of concern for his safety.

He said the Buddhist mob ransacked shops and burned vehicles before police managed to restore order, but that at 6am Buddhists were still driving through the neighbourhood shouting at residents.

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