Burmese army moves in after seven die in religious clashes


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The Independent Online

Burma's President declared a state of emergency yesterday in a western state where tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have unleashed deadly violence.

Thein Sein issued the declaration in a speech televised nationally. A state of emergency allows the military to take over administrative functions for the area affected.

The move follows rioting on Friday in two areas of Rakhine that state media say left at least seven people dead and 17 wounded. Hundreds of houses were burnt down and the unrest spread over the weekend. State television had earlier announced that a 6pm-to-6am curfew had been imposed in Rakhine's capital, Sittwe, and three other townships.

Officials blamed the violence on 1,000 "terrorists", but residents said the rioters were Muslims, apparently retaliating for the 3 June lynching of 10 Muslims by 300 Buddhists.

The lynch mob was inflamed by the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslim men.