A bomb exploded meters away from a radical Buddhist monk as he delivered a mass sermon in Myanmar, police said on Monday (July 22), in the latest flare-up in tensions pitting Buddhists against minority Muslims.

Wirathu, the prominent monk who heads a movement accused of stirring violence against Muslims, said he believed the blast on Sunday evening (July 21) in Myanmar's second city, Mandalay, was intended to silence him.

The home-made bomb went off inside a parked car, according to police and witnesses. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Wirathu was unharmed, despite being 40 feet from the blast, according to police. Five people were slightly injured, including a novice monk.

Tensions have been smouldering between radical elements of Myanmar's Buddhist majority and Muslims. Bouts of religious violence have killed at least 237 people and displaced 150,000 in the past year, testing the resolve of a two-year-old quasi-civilian government.

The device exploded during a ceremony conducted by Wirathu, who once called himself "the Burmese bin Laden". He is the chief proponent of a movement known as 969.

The 969 movement has been accused of stirring anti-Muslim sentiment in a deeply Buddhist nation, where curbs on freedom of speech and assembly have eased since the end of military rule two years ago.

Presented by Adam Justice

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/493274/20130722/myanmar-bomb-explodes-near-burmese-bin-laden.htm