A mob has burned down a mosque in northern Myanmar in the second attack of its kind in just over a week. Police are reported to be guarding the village of Hpakant in Kachin state, after failing to stop Buddhist villagers setting the mosque ablaze.
The UN has warned the government led by Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi to crack down on religious violence. The latest attack took place on Friday, when a group of villagers stormed the mosque and set it on fire. Reports said they attacked police officers guarding it, and stopped the fire brigade from reaching the site.
“The problem started because the mosque was built near a (Buddhist) pagoda. The Muslim people refused to destroy the building when the Buddhists discovered it,” Moe Lwin, a local police officer, told the AFP news agency.
Last week, the Muslim community was forced to seek refuge in a neighbouring town, after their mosque was burnt down and a Muslim man was beaten up. It happened in a village called Thayel Tha Mein.
Local media reported that more than one building was burnt down in the attack, which has been blamed on a group of more than 200 Buddhists. Police were deployed to the village to protect the Muslim community there.
There have been religious and ethnic tensions in Myanmar since 2012, when waves of deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims, largely thought to be Rohingya Muslims, engulfed parts of the western Rakhine state.
Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, said she was concerned by reports that the government would not investigate last week’s attack on the mosque.
“This is precisely the wrong signal to send. The government must demonstrate that instigating and committing violence against ethnic or religious minorities has no place in Myanmar,” she said at the end of a 12-day visit to the country.