UN envoy visits riot-stricken Myanmar town

The United Nations envoy to Myanmar on Sunday viewed the devastation wrought by deadly communal riots in the centre of the country and met some of the estimated 9,000 people displaced.

Religious violence in the town of Meiktila has claimed at least 32 lives and displaced thousands since starting Wednesday, according to officials, leaving swathes of the town in ruin and prompting an army-enforced state of emergency.

Vijay Nambiar, the UN special adviser on Myanmar, visited two makeshift camps for displaced Muslims and a monastery housing Buddhists who also fled the violence, according to an AFP photographer.

Ahead of his trip Nambiar on Friday expressed "deep sorrow" at the loss of life and urged religious leaders to call on their communities to "abjure violence, respect the law and promote peace".

Around 50 military trucks were deployed in the riot-hit area on Saturday, after homes and mosques were torched by mobs armed with knives and sticks in the three days of communal rioting.

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

It is the worst religious violence since clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

The UN has repeatedly voiced concern over the ongoing plight of the displaced in Rakhine, the majority of them Rohingya Muslims who are shoehorned into insanitary camps.