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Muslims Torch, Loot Buddhist Holy Sites in Bangladesh Over Alleged Facebook Photo


"I have seen 11 wooden temples, two of them 300 years old, torched by the mob.  They looted precious items and Buddha statues from the temples."

Statues are pictured at the burnt Buddhist temple of Shima Bihar on September 30, 2012. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

(TheBlaze/AP) -- Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims angry over an alleged derogatory photo of the Quran on Facebook set fire to at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes near the southern border with Myanmar, authorities said Sunday.

"I have seen 11 wooden temples, two of them 300 years old, torched by the mob.  They looted precious items and Buddha statues from the temples.  Shops owned by Buddhists were also looted," local journalist Sunil Barua said, according to Russia Today.

The violence began late Saturday and continued until early Sunday, said Nojibul Islam, a police chief in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar.

He said the situation was under control Sunday afternoon after extra security officials were deployed and the government banned public gatherings in the troubled area.

He said at least 20 people were injured in the attacks that followed the posting of a Facebook photo of a burned copy of the Quran.  The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy, though it was not immediately clear if the boy actually posted the photo.

Bangladesh's popular English-language Daily Star newspaper quoted the boy as saying that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile.  The newspaper reported that soon after the violence broke out, the boy's Facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother to safety.

Joinul Bari, chief government administrator in Cox's Bazar district, said authorities detained the boy's parents and were investigating.

"We've called in army along with paramilitary troopers and police who were constantly guarding the areas to ward off any further violence," Bari assured.

Bangladeshi Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, and reportedly told Bangladeshi media: "The attack was conducted in a coordinated manner. Temples and houses were set on fire using patrol and gun powder. It would have been impossible if the attacks were not planned."

Buddhists make up less than 1 percent of Muslim-majority Bangladesh's 150 million people.

The Bangladeshi violence follows protests that erupted in Muslim countries over the past month, beginning largely in Egypt and Libya on September 11.

Some two dozen demonstrators have been killed in protests that attacked symbols of U.S. and the West, including diplomatic compounds, and the protests appear to be spreading.




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