A crowd of Buddhists has set fire to a mosque in the north of Myanmar, furious that a Muslim place of worship was built near a Buddhist pagoda in the predominantly Buddhist country. The attack happened on Friday, 1 July, in the village of Hpakhant in Kachin state.
The attackers, who were "wielding sticks, knives and other weapons", overwhelmed security forces before burning the temple down, according to state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar.
"The mob was unresponsive and entirely beyond control. The building was razed by the riotous crowd," according to the paper.
Reports say the crowd attacked policemen protecting the mosque and prevented fire crews from reaching the building to put out the blaze.
"The problem started because the mosque was built near a [Buddhist] pagoda. The Muslim people refused to destroy the building when the Buddhists discovered it," Moe Lwin, a local police officer, told the AFP news agency.
Last week, a mob destroyed a mosque over a dispute over its construction in Thayel Tha Mein village in central Myanmar. There were reports of a Muslim man being attacked. Local media said that more than one building was burnt down in the attack, which has been blamed on a group of over 200 Buddhists.
The UN has warned that the government, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has failed to stem religious violence. Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, said she was concerned by reports that the government would not investigate last week's attack on a mosque.
"This is precisely the wrong signal to send. The government must demonstrate that instigating and committing violence against ethnic or religious minorities has no place in Myanmar," she said.
There have been religious tensions in Myanmar since 2012, with deadly violence between Buddhists and Muslims, according to AP. More than 100,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority have fled their homes in western Rakhine State.
The now-stateless Rohingya, are living in displacement camps and have a number of restrictions on their movements and access to basic services. Human rights groups have criticised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not dealing with the unrest.
Her government recently ordered officials to refer to the group as "people who believe in Islam in Rakhine State" instead of Rohingya, which provoked violent protests.
Yanghee Lee ended her 12-day tour of the country, stating: "It is clear that tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society. Incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance continue to be a cause for concern."
She spoke specifically about attacks on religious properties. "It is vital that the government take prompt action, including by conducting thorough investigations and holding perpetrators to account.
"I am therefore concerned by reports that the government will not pursue action in the most recent case due to fears of fueling greater tensions and provoking more conflict. This is precisely the wrong signal to send," she said, referring to the June 23 incident.
No one has so far been arrested for the destruction of the mosques.