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Myanmar warns violence could threaten reforms

RANGOON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s government warned Monday that religious violence could threaten democratic reforms after anti-Muslim mobs rampaged through three more towns in the country’s predominantly Buddhist heartland.

The mobs destroyed mosques and burned dozens of homes over the weekend despite attempts by the government to stem the nation’s latest outbreak of sectarian violence.

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In an announcement Monday night on state television, the government pledged to make ‘‘utmost efforts’’ to halt the violence and incitement of racial and religious unrest.

‘‘We also urge the people to avoid religious extremes and violence which could jeopardize the country’s democratic reform and development,’’ it said.

President Thein Sein had declared an emergency in the affected areas of central Myanmar on Friday and deployed army troops to the worst-hit city, Meikhtila, where at least 32 people were killed. According to the United Nations, about 12,000 people were displaced.

Muslims, who make up about 30 percent of Meikhtila’s 100,000 inhabitants, appeared to have borne the brunt of the devastation. At least five mosques were set ablaze from Wednesday to Friday, and most homes and shops burned were Muslim-owned.

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