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16 arrested over sectarian violence in Mandalay, Myanmar

Myanmar police said 16 people have been arrested in connection with the clashes between Buddhists and Muslim communities in Mandalay last week. According to the state's home affairs minister, the curfew may be lifted soon.

MANDALAY: Myanmar police said 16 people have been arrested in connection with the clashes between Buddhists and Muslim communities in Mandalay last week.

They have also detained more than 300 people for breaking the curfew that was imposed after the violence that killed two people.

Mandalay’s home affairs minister told Channel NewsAsia the daily curfew may be lifted soon.

Colonel Aung Kyaw Moe said: "We're trying to arrest the perpetrators involved in the conflicts. If we can arrest those people and the people feel secure and safe enough, the curfew will then be lifted. If you ask me when, I can only say (the curfew will be lifted) very soon."

The President's Office has issued a statement calling on citizens to cooperate with the police in preventing incidents involving sectarian violence.

Government ministers also insisted there will be no more attacks.

Dr Win Hlaing, Mandalay’s social affairs minister, said: "They have many, many plans to prevent this violence. Our government, our Mandalay citizens, they don't want this violence. So if someone wants to try this again, everybody will protect. So I believe it will not happen again."

Authorities said they are deploying police officers at potential flash points to prevent more conflict.

Colonel Aung Kyaw Moe added: "We'll find and arrest the people who are spreading the rumours (on the attacks) and uncover the various channels on how these rumours are spread. We are providing security protect the people. If they feel safe and secure, the situation will be stabilised."

Religious leaders are actively speaking to their congregation to dissuade them from participating in any anti-religious activities.

Even though the local ministers said the Mandalay citizens will not allow the attacks to happen again, many said it will be beyond the government's control if trouble-makers from outside come into town to create problems.  

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