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Myanmar media say latest clashes caused by false rape claim

Myanmar's latest clashes began after a Buddhist woman was paid to make false rape claims against two Muslim men, state media reported Sunday. The violence broke out in Mandalay on July 1 after social media reports of the assault.

YANGON: Myanmar's latest clashes began after a Buddhist woman was paid to make false rape claims against two Muslim men, state media reported Sunday.

Two men -- a Buddhist and a Muslim -- died in riots in Mandalay that flared on July 1 following social media reports that the Muslim men had raped a Buddhist employee at their tea shop.

More than 20 others were wounded as violence rocked the city for several days, the latest in a series of sectarian clashes that have troubled the nation for two years.

But a police investigation found the woman was paid to fabricate the accusation against the men, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

The report, citing the Ministry of Home Affairs, said a medical examination of the woman -- named as Phyu Phyu Min -- found "no sign of rape or other violence".

"After a detailed investigation she confessed that she accused the two men because she was paid" to do so by two other people who apparently had a personal dispute with the tea shop owners.

The woman has been arrested alongside one of the people alleged to have paid her, the report said.

The unrest, which saw a curfew imposed as security forces moved in to disperse angry mobs, again spotlighted the incendiary nature of relations between Myanmar's Buddhists and the Muslim minority.

Clashes have left at least 250 people dead and tens of thousands displaced since fighting broke out in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine in 2012.

Violence has often erupted as a result of rumours or individual criminal acts.

Mandalay has not suffered sectarian unrest on such a scale before.

Radical monks have been accused of fanning tensions, with Mandalay-based cleric Wirathu posting a link to the rape allegations just hours before the unrest broke out.

The deadly flare-ups have prompted warnings that the country's fragile transition to democracy could be in peril.

Responding to the rioting, President Thein Sein said "serious action" would be taken against those involved and hinted that hard-won media freedoms could be compromised if unrest continued.

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