YANGON - Two people have been killed during Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar's second-largest city, police said Thursday after security forces fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of rioters.
Myanmar has been shaken by several waves of sectarian conflict in recent years that have cast a shadow over its emergence from decades of repressive military rule.
At least 250 people have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless since 2012 by inter-communal violence that has largely targeted Muslims.
Police fired rubber bullets during the night on Tuesday into Wednesday to disperse hundreds of rioters, some armed with sticks and knives, who took to the streets and attacked a Muslim teashop after an accusation of rape, the authorities said.
"There are two dead," a police officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP by telephone from the central city of Mandalay, without providing further details.
In a monthly radio address, Myanmar's reformist President Thein Sein called for an end to religious hatred.
"As our country is a multi-racial and -religious nation, the current reform process will be successful only when stability is maintained through the co-operation of all the citizens by living harmoniously with one another," he said according to an official transcript.
"For the reform to be successful, I would like to urge all to avoid instigation and behaviour that incite hatred among our fellow citizens," he said.