Myanmar’s army took control of a ruined central city on Saturday, regaining control after several days of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims that killed dozens and left scores of buildings in flames in the worst sectarian bloodshed to hit the nation this year.
Truckloads of soldiers could be seen patrolling Meikhtila and taking up positions at intersections and banks.
President Thein Sein imposed a state of emergency in the region on Friday in a bid to stop the violence from spreading.
The unrest, the first of its kind reported in Myanmar since a wave of bloodshed shook western Rakhine state twice last year, underscored the government’s failure to reign in anti-Muslim sentiment in the predominantly Buddhist country, where even leading monks have staged anti-Muslim rallies that critics say have set the stage for further violence.
It was not immediately clear which side bore the brunt of the latest unrest, but terrified Muslims, who make about 30% of Meikhtila’s 1,00,000 inhabitants, stayed off the streets on Friday.
At least five mosques were torched and thousands of Muslims have fled their homes, escorted to safety by police to two make-shift camps. Some Buddhists, have sought shelter at local monasteries.