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Myanmar anti-Muslim attacks spread

YANGON, Myanmar — Authorities in Myanmar imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in three townships on Tuesday after anti-Muslim religious violence touched new parts of the country, edging closer to the main city of Yangon.

State television reported incidents in the three townships in Bago region, all within 100 miles of Yangon. The latest attack Monday night was in Gyobingauk, where it said ‘‘troublemakers’’ damaged a religious building, shops, and some houses.

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The report said similar attacks occurred in nearby Otepho and Min Hla on Sunday night. Official reports use the term ‘‘religious buildings’’ in an apparent attempt to dampen passion, though in most cases the targets were reportedly mosques.

The announcement said an emergency law known as Section 144 would be applied in the three townships; it will ban public assemblies, marches, and speeches, and impose a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

The religious unrest began with rioting a week ago in the central city of Meikhtila that was sparked by a dispute between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Tuesday that eight more bodies were found in Meikhtila as soldiers cleared devastated areas set ablaze by anti-Muslim mobs during three days of rioting, bringing the death toll to 40.

State TV said Tuesday that although calm had been restored in Meikhtila, a 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew has been imposed to prevent any new violence.

Amid fears of spreading violence, shop owners in Yangon, about 340 miles south of Meikhtila, were told to close Monday evening by 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m.

The upsurge in sectarian unrest casts a shadow over President Thein Sein’s administration as it struggles to make democratic changes after a half-century of military rule.

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