Myanmar imposes new curfews as violence spreads


Black smoke rises from burning houses around a mosque in riot-hit Meiktila, central Myanmar on March 21, 2013.


Soe Than WIN

Curfews have been imposed on three more towns in Myanmar as attacks on Muslim communities spread closer to Yangon.

The latest dusk-to-dawn curfews were put into place after incidents in the Bago region were reported by state television. The latest attack happened on Monday night in Gyobingauk, where "troublemakers" damaged a religious building, shops and houses.

Similar attacks occurred in nearby Otepho and Min Hla on Sunday night, with official reports using the term "religious buildings" to refer to what were mostly mosques being attacked.

More from GlobalPost: Meikhtila: Myanmar town declares state of emergency

The state TV announcement also said an emergency law called Section 144 would be applied in the three towns, which bans public assemblies, marches and speeches, along with the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

A state of emergency has been put into place in Meikhtila, where at least 40 deaths have been reported. Residents outside the capital have said they do not feel safe.

"The situation is better than the previous day but we can't sleep well at night," said a Buddhist man. "People are still afraid of buildings being set on fire because there isn't security everywhere."

A Muslim man said: "We are safe during the day, but we cannot go back to our houses because security personnel are only on the main roads. But there has been no more attacking and destroying houses. There are just thieves who steal from burnt buildings."

The unrest prompted a travel warning from the US State Department warning visitors of the danger in the Mandalay region.

The warning also told travelers to stay away from Muslim neighborhoods in Yangon.

The government in Myanmar called for calm amidst the violence.

"We also urge the people to avoid religious extremes and violence which could jeopardise the country's democratic reform and development,'' a government television message said.