Mob torches Hpakant mosque as religious tensions spike

YANGON — A mob wielding weapons razed a Muslim prayer hall in the Kachin State jade-mining hub of Hpakant, state media reported Saturday, the second attack on a mosque in just over a week.

Myanmar has struggled to contain bouts of deadly religious bloodshed in recent years, with bristling sectarian tensions and Buddhist nationalism posing a steep challenge to the new government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Friday villagers in Hpakant ransacked a mosque “wielding sticks, knives and other weapons” before burning it down, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar.

“The mob was unresponsive and entirely beyond control. The building was razed by the riotous crowd,” the paper reported, adding that the rampage was sparked by a dispute over the mosque’s construction.

No arrests have been made, it said.

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The riot coincided with the end of a 12-day visit by a United Nations rights investigator who warned that “tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society”.

In a press conference concluding her trip Friday, Yanghee Lee called on authorities to investigate the destruction of another mosque in central Bago late last month.

“The government must demonstrate that instigating and committing violence against an ethnic or religious minority community has no place in Myanmar,” she said.

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