Myanmar has established a state of emergency in an area of the country beleaguered by violence between Buddhists and Muslims. The move comes after days of killings and arson.
Myanmar President Thein Sein on Sunday announced a state of emergency in a western state where there are reports of escalating sectarian violence.
"I would like to call upon the people, political parties, religious leaders and the media to join hands with the government with a sense of duty, to help restore peace and stability and to prevent further escalation of violence," said Thein Sein.
Thein Sein made the announcement about the state of Rakhine on state television.
The state of emergency follows the government's initial moves earlier in the afternoon to implement curfews in the townships of Tan Twel, Kyauk Phyuu and Yan Byel.
Buddhists and Muslims have engaged in bloody clashes in the region in recent days.
On Friday, zones of the region were put under martial law after Muslims allegedly set 500 houses on fire, resulting in seven fatal casualties. And last week, 10 Muslims were mistakenly massacred by Buddhists in nearby Taunggup, believing they had found those responsible for the rape and killing of a local woman in May. Three Muslims were later arrested for the killing.
One thousand Rakhine Buddhists also demonstrated in Yangon on Sunday, calling for law and order and the deportation of the Muslim "Rohingyas."
The Muslims implicated in the clashes are believed to belong to the stateless minority Rohingya group. They have been refused citizenship by the Myanmar government, who claim that they are citizens of neighboring Bangladesh.
sej/mz (dpa, AFP)