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Myanmar communal unrest spreads: officials

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Dozens of houses and a mosque have been torched as communal violence spread in central Myanmar, officials said Sunday, adding scores of people have been arrested over the unrest.

"Altogether 43 houses and a mosque have been burned last night (Saturday)... most of the houses belong to Muslims," a ward official in Yamethin town, near the capital Naypyidaw told AFP, adding no-one was injured in the unrest.

"This kind of case has never happened here."

The Information Ministry said 52 people were arrested with weapons and 13 held in Meiktila town, where lethal riots last week left at least 32 people dead and thousands displaced.

Police also made more arrests at two other villages as trouble between Buddhists and Muslims spread, the information ministry said in a statement.

On a visit of the riot-stricken town where the violence began last Wednesday Vijay Nambiar, the UN special adviser on Myanmar, expressed sadness at the death and destruction but said residents want to rebuild their shattered lives.

The clashes are a stark reminder of the challenge which worsening Muslim-Buddhist tensions poses to Myanmar's quasi-civilian regime as it tries to reform the country after decades of iron-fisted military rule.

The flare-up of violence is the most serious religious conflict since Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the western state of Rakhine last year, leaving at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

hla/apj/ia

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130324/myanmar-communal-unrest-spreads-officials