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Death toll rises to 25 in Myanmar riots

Two days of rioting between Buddhists and Muslims in the central Myanmar town of Meikhtila has killed at least 25, officials said Friday.

Two camps now held more than 2,000 people displaced by the fighting.

Fires set to Muslim homes continued to burn but angry Buddhist residents and monks prevented authorities from putting out the blazes.

At least five mosques were torched during the violence that started Wednesday, reportedly triggered by an argument between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers.

A Buddhist monk was among the first killed, inflaming tensions that led a Buddhist mob to rampage through a Muslim neighborhood.

Meikhtila is about 550 kilometers north of the main city of Yangon and has a population of about 100,000 people, of which about a third are Muslims.

Occasional isolated violence involving Myanmar’s majority Buddhist and minority Muslim communities has occurred for decades.

The unleashing of ethnic hatred, suppressed during 49 years of military rule that ended in March 2011, is challenging the reformist government of one of Asia's most ethnically diverse countries.

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