At least five people, including a Buddhist monk, were killed and at least three mosques were destroyed after riots broke out in a town in central Myanmar, police said.
About 200 people fought in the streets after an argument in a Muslim-owned gold shop turned violent in Meiktila on Wednesday, according to a post on the Myanmar Police Force’s Facebook page, adding that the death toll was expected to rise.
“One injured monk and Than Myint Naing, 26, who were being treated for their injuries died from their burns at hospital,” it said.
Police imposed a curfew from evening to early morning to control the situation.
“People tried to burn down the mosques,” one local police officer told the AFP news agency.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said that a state of emergency had been put in place and many people were said to be leaving the town.
“Myanmar’s religious tensions appear to have reached another part of the country with violence happening in a central region,” our correspondent said.
The unrest comes amid heightened concerns over Muslim-Buddhist relations in Myanmar, where communal conflict in the western state of Rakhine has left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced since June 2012.
An initial report on the police Facebook page late on Wednesday said anger spread after one man was injured during the fight in the gold shop.
The report said a mob then descended on the area and destroyed some buildings.
It said six people were admitted to hospital, and that the Buddhist monk and a Muslim man later died from their injuries. A subsequent police report omitted the religion of the second man.