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Monks helped defuse riot, not enflame it: ABMU

The All Burma Monks’ Union (ABMU) said at a press conference on Wednesday that Buddhist monks at the scene of riots in Mandalay on Tuesday night had helped diffuse the situation, not enflame it, and that the anti-Muslim violence had taken place because of “weak action” by the government authorities.

Galone Ni Sayadaw of the ABMU-Upper Burma denied allegations that Buddhist monks were involved in the riots on Tuesday night when a Buddhist mob attacked Muslim properties and smashed up cars. He insisted they were visible at the scene to quall the unrest and help contain the situation.

An uneasy calm has returned to the streets of Mandalay on Wednesday following a riot the previous night when a Buddhist mob attacked Muslim properties and smashed up cars.

A police spokesman said on Wednesday said that cars and vehicles parked in the street around 26th and 80th streets in Chan Aye Tharzan Township had been damaged while properties belonging to Muslims had been targeted following an unsubstantiated rumour that circulated on social media saying that two local Muslim tea shop owners had raped their Buddhist maid.

On Thursday, international news agencies AFP and Reuters cited police sources saying that two people had been killed in the violence. Reuters said a Buddhist and a Muslim were killed while 14 people were injured, according to Aung Kyaw Oo, an army colonel in charge of security in the Mandalay region.

Much of the focus of the unrest has surrounded nationalist monk Wirathu who circulated the original rumour about the alleged rape and continued the following day by claiming to have to proof that Buddhists had been killed by Muslims that day in the central Burmese city. He stated on his Facebook page, which has thousands of followers, on Thursday morning that Muslims “armed to teeth with swords and spears” were preparing a jihad against local Buddhists.