Islamic school fire kills 13 children in Myanmar

Islamic school fire kills 13 children in Myanmar

Islamic school fire kills 13 children in Myanmar

Police stand in front of a mosque and school dormitory that were damaged in a fire in Yangon April 2, 2013. REUTERS photo

A fire engulfed yesterday a mosque housing Muslim schoolchildren in Myanmar’s largest city, killing at least 13. Authorities, anxious over sectarian violence that has shaken the nation, quickly blamed the blaze on an accidental electrical short.

Security forces and three trucks of riot police blocked off roads around the scarred, two-story building compound in eastern Yangon which encompasses a mosque, a Muslim school and a dormitory.

There were no reports of violence, but around 200 Muslim residents gathered uneasily nearby, many expressing suspicions the fire had been set intentionally.

Myanmar has been on edge after sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims erupted in the central city of Meikhtila in March, killing dozens of people and displacing more than 10,000.

Police officer Thet Lwin, who was at the scene before dawn, said the fire was triggered by an electrical short “and not due to any criminal activity.”

Every time he mentioned the word “electrical short,” though, angry Muslims shouted and began banging on vehicles with their fists.