Tense calm returns to western Myanmar after religious violence; 4 houses torched

  • Updated: July 1, 2013 - 3:10 AM

YANGON, Myanmar — A tense calm returned to Myanmar's western state of Rakhine on Monday after rioters set four houses ablaze, the latest violence between Buddhists and minority Muslims, officials said.

The alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman by a motorcycle taxi driver in the coastal town of Thandwe triggered Sunday's flare-up, said Nay Lin, a police officer.

Two suspects have been arrested, he added, providing few details except that they were of a "different religion" from the victim.

Since emerging from a half-century of military rule in 2011, the predominantly Buddhist nation has been grappling with violence targeting its minority Muslim community.

Nearly 250 people have been killed and 140,000 forced to flee their homes.

Rakhine, home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, has been hardest hit.

The violence started late Sunday when an angry crowd gathered at the Thandwe went on a rampage after being told to disperse, Ye Htut, the deputy minister of information, posted on his Facebook page.

Tin Win, a resident and retired education officer contacted by phone, said the flames and smoke were visible from his window.

He was told the four torched homes belonged to Muslims.

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