World News – A fire killed 13 students at a Muslim school in Myanmar’s main city on Tuesday, police said, raising tensions in the wake of sectarian clashes despite police assurances that the blaze was accidental.
The government called for calm and sent security forces to the scene after an angry crowd gathered demanding answers about the deadly fire in Yangon, which follows a wave of Buddhist-Muslim killings and arson in central Myanmar.
“Thirteen people, mostly children, were killed during a fire at a Muslim religious school in downtown Yangon,” a police officer at the scene told AFP.
“We assume that it was due to an electrical short circuit.” The doors to the building — which housed a mosque and a religious school where dozens of children were staying in a dormitory — were apparently locked, according to government spokesman Ye Htut, preventing the students from escaping until emergency services arrived.
Police promised to establish a committee — including Muslim leaders — to look into the cause, while the government urged people to avoid spreading rumours.
“Please don’t believe some news on the Internet portraying this case as a religious conflict,” Ye Htut posted on his Facebook page.
Safety standards are generally poor in impoverished Myanmar, which is emerging from decades of military rule.
Some Muslim leaders, however, voiced suspicions that the fire was started deliberately because students and teachers said they had slipped on an oily liquid on the ground floor while escaping.
“The oil smelled like petrol or diesel,” said Shine Win, a Muslim leader, urging the government to “reveal the truth”. Agencies