Angry mourners mass in riot-hit Myanmar city

Angry mourners mass in riot-hit Myanmar city

MANDALAY, Myanmar - Thousands of people, some wielding sticks, flooded Myanmar's second-largest city Friday as tensions spiked during the funeral of a victim of Buddhist-Muslim clashes that have raised fears of spreading violence.

A procession led by scores of motorcycles carried the coffin of the 36-year-old slain Buddhist man through the heart of Mandalay, as anger grew following unrest in which a Muslim man was also killed.

The violence on Tuesday and Wednesday saw mobs wielding airguns, swords, rocks and other weapons go on a rampage through the central metropolis.

It was the latest in a string of deadly religious clashes that have plagued the former junta-run nation for two years, prompting warnings that the country's fragile transition to democracy could be imperilled.

Authorities imposed an overnight curfew on Thursday to quell the riots, which left 14 people injured. Police arrested nine people in connection with the unrest.

An AFP reporter at the scene said there was a relatively light security presence in central Mandalay despite the large crowds.

The wife of the Buddhist victim, who was attacked on Wednesday evening, told AFP that she could not understand why the father of her three children was targeted.

"They killed him brutally," she said as she prepared for the funeral.

A friend of the dead man, who was with him at the time of the attack, showed AFP injuries on his hand that he said were slash marks from a "sword" used by a group of Muslims to kill his friend.

"I will hold a grudge for the rest of my life. If anything happens like this again I will not hesitate to be involved," said Htwe.

A funeral for the dead Muslim man, a popular local bicycle shop owner, was held Thursday, hours after he was killed while on his way to attend early morning prayers.

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