Myanmar jails Muslim for rape attempt that sparked riot

Myanmar jails Muslim for rape attempt that sparked riot
A man looks at buildings on fire during riots at Oakkan village, 100 km (60 miles) north of Yangon April 30, 2013.

YANGON - A court in Myanmar has jailed a Muslim teenager for seven years for the attempted rape of a Buddhist woman that triggered recent religious unrest, an official said Thursday.

Hundreds of people were left homeless after about 1,000 anti-Muslim rioters tore through villages in Kanbalu, in the northwest region of Sagaing, on August 24, torching Muslim property.

The rampage started after a mob surrounded a police station to demand the suspect be handed over after he allegedly tried to rape a 25-year-old Buddhist woman.

A township court on Wednesday sentenced 18-year-old San Min Oo to seven years in jail, a local police officer said requesting anonymity.

"He was sent straight to Mandalay prison," the officer said, adding the situation was "calm" in the area.

Some 325 Muslims are still sheltering at a school after their homes were set ablaze during the unrest, the policeman added.

Attacks against Muslims - who make up at least four per cent of the population - have exposed deep rifts in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, casting a shadow over widely praised political reforms since military rule ended in 2011.

Religious violence has left about 250 people dead and more than 140,000 homeless in Myanmar - mostly Muslims - since last year.

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