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Myanmar lifts emergency order in riot-hit areas

Saturday - 7/20/2013, 11:10am  ET

Myanmar President Thein Sein, left, arrives at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar as he returns from a European tour, Saturday, July 20, 2013. Myanmar's president on Saturday lifted a state of emergency in the central part of the country put in place after Buddhist-led mobs went on a rampage, killing dozens of Muslims and burning down their shops and homes. Many of the victims were teachers and teenage students from an Islamic school. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

YADANA HTUN
Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's president on Saturday lifted a state of emergency in the central part of the country put in place after Buddhist-led mobs went on a rampage, killing dozens of Muslims and burning down their shops and homes. Many of the victims were teachers and teenage students from an Islamic school.

The decision to lift the emergency order in the battle-scarred townships of Meikhtila, Mahlaing, Wundwin and Thazi several months ahead of schedule was an indication that "peace and stability" have been restored, said the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

The move came as President Thein Sein was wrapping up a European tour that was aimed in part at cleaning up the image of a country wracked by religious violence. Thein Sein told France 24 TV that allegations of "ethnic cleansing" in the state of Rakhine were not true and were part of a "smear campaign" by outsiders.

The unrest in Meikhtila was sparked by a quarrel at a Muslim-owned gold shop
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