Muslims in Myanmar’s second-largest city are accusing police of standing by as a Buddhist mob went on a rampage, torching a school and other buildings.
Angry mourners, some carrying crude weapons, rioted in Mandalay on Saturday after the funeral of a 36-year-old Buddhist victim of the country’s latest eruption of religious unrest, witnesses said.
A school and dormitory in the Muslim area of a cemetery on the outskirts of the city were seen charred and damaged.
“More than 70 police were here but did nothing,” said Win Naing, a Muslim donor to the school, who watched the attack from the home of a Buddhist friend.
He said some of the rioters were armed with sticks, metal pipes and even saws.
No children were believed to be in the school at the time and nobody was thought to have been injured in the attack.
Several days of violence, sparked by an accusation of rape, have also left a Muslim dead and 14 other people injured.
“Police could have stopped the mob but they did not,” said Zaw Zaw Latt, a Muslim member of an interfaith group in the city.
Police said they did not provide extra security for the crowds because they did not believe they would turn violent.
“Yesterday we did not stop the mob because we thought they were just taking part the funeral, not an attack,” said Ye Htut of the Myanmar regional police office.
At least 250 people have been killed across Myanmar since 2012 in Buddhist-Muslim clashes that have cast a shadow over the country’s political reforms.
Police have been accused of inaction in the past and the government has deployed soldiers in some cases to restore order.
A night-time curfew has been imposed in Mandalay and nine people have been arrested in connection with the recent violence.