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Soldiers pass their time as they guard the city in Lashio township

Source: Al Jazeera

Myanmar police have fired shots 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.

Five people were injured during the rioting, including a police officer, two officers told the Reuters news agency.

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.

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

A local journalist told Al Jazeera that several Muslim shops were destroyed and that some people had been wounded in knife attacks. The main market in town remained closed on Wednesday.

Myanmar has been wracked 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.

 

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