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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
'Ten dead' in Burmese sectarian riots

A government-approved Islamic organisation in Burma says at least ten people have died in riots between Muslims and Buddhists.

A spokesman for the Burma Islamic Council Haji U Thein said the clashes broke out in the town of Toungoo after Buddhists saw television news reports about the destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.

The spokesman said a curfew was still in force in the town after a week of clashes and that the situation was still tense.

At least 10 people died in similar sectarian clashes in the western town of Sittwe two months ago.

The violence was sparked after Muslim youths were accused of harassing a Buddhist girl.

There is a long history of sporadic violence between Burma's Buddhist and Muslim communities, particularly in the west of the country towards the Burmese border with Bangladesh.

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