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Muslim homes have been targeted with “brutal efficiency” in deadly new unrest in Burma, a UN envoy who has just been to the country said Tuesday.
Envoy Vijay Nambiar said that “incendiary propaganda” had been used to stir unrest between Buddhist and Muslim communities, which has erupted again in recent days.
Nambiar has just been on a visit to Burma during which he met President Thein Sein and was taken to Meikhtila where mosques were burned and charred bodies left in the streets in violence that started on 20 March.
“It seemed to have been done, in a sense, in almost a kind of brutal efficiency,” Nambiar told reporters at UN headquarters from Thailand.
He said he went to shelters in Meikhtila where almost 9,000 people had sought protection. About 23 people have been detained in the town, which is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital Naypyidaw, the envoy added.
“Most of the people I spoke to tended to suggest the attacks were perpetrated by people they did not really recognize, and they may have been outsiders. But clearly they were targeted,” Nambiar said.
The envoy said some “inciteful” articles had been written by Buddhist elements.
“Clearly there has been a fair amount of incendiary propaganda which has been going on amongst the various communities, which heightened the feeling between them,” Nambiar added.
The UN official said Thein Sein had been “very firm in saying that firm action” would be taken against the perpetrators and to stop the spread of the violence.
Since the attacks in Meikhtila, the Buddhist-Muslim violence has spread this week to towns closer to the commercial capital Rangoon.