CLASHES ERUPT IN CENTRAL BURMA, PEGU CITY UNDER CURFEW


2001-10-18
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - Burma's central city of Pegu was under curfew Friday following a clash between Moslems and Buddhists in the 16th century capital, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. A disagreement Monday in Hinthagone Ward between a Moslem pharmacy owner and several Buddhist monks sparked the clash, according to a monk who asked not to be named. No one was seriously injured, several local residents said. "It all started over the purchase of some medicine by a monk. After an argument, the monks assaulted the shopkeeper," a monk who witnessed the incident told RFA. Government security forces, called in to restore order, then clashed with the Buddhist monks and imposed a 6:00 p.m.- 6:00 a.m. curfew, according to witnesses interviewed by phone from Pegu. They detained several monks and sent others back to their hometowns in northern Burma, the witnesses said. All the monks involved were reportedly students at the Thathana Mandaing monastery. As of Friday, the curfew remained in force from 8:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m. and the city had returned to normal, witnesses said. U Kyaw Hla, president of the Moslem Liberation Organization of Burma, sought to downplay the clashes in an interview from the Thai-Burmese border. "I can't understand how a clash can start over the purchase of medicine by a Buddhist monk at a pharmacy owned by a Moslem," he said, but noted other recent violence between Buddhists and Moslems in Prome. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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