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Fighting breaks out between Muslim and Buddhist groups in northwest Myanmar

Reuters

An ethnic Rakhine man holds homemade weapons as he walks in front of houses that were burnt during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe on Sunday. Northwest Myanmar was tense on Monday after sectarian violence engulfed its largest city at the weekend, with Reuters witnessing rival mobs of Muslims and Buddhists torching houses and police firing into the air to disperse crowds.

Reuters

Policemen move towards burning houses during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe on Sunday. Northwest Myanmar was tense on Monday after sectarian violence engulfed its largest city at the weekend, with Reuters witnessing rival mobs of Muslims and Buddhists torching houses and police firing into the air to disperse crowds.

Reuters

Ethnic Rakhine people get water from a firefighter truck to extinguish fire set to their houses during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe.

Reuters

An ethnic Rakhine woman carries her belongings and a sharpened bamboo stick for protection during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe on Sunday.

Staff / Reuters

A Buddhist monk looks from the window behind a policeman during fighting between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in Sittwe.

Reuters reports that at least seven people were killed in fighting in northwest Myanmar:

The unrest undermines the image of ethnic unity and stability that helped persuade the United States and Europe to suspend economic sanctions this year, while increasing curfews could threaten tourism and foreign investment - rewards for emerging from nearly half a century of army rule.

It might also force reformist President Thein Sein, a former general, to confront an issue that human rights groups have criticized for years: the plight of thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims who live along Myanmar's border with Bangladesh in abject conditions and are despised by many ethnic Rakhine, members of Myanmar's predominantly Buddhist majority.

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A state of emergency in Myanmar after rival mobs of Buddhists and Muslims terrorize towns and burn homes. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.

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