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Muslim protesters torch Buddhist temples, homes in Bangladesh
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.
Members of the Buddhist minority in the Cox's Bazar area in the southeast of the country said unidentified people were bent on upsetting peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists.
Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam.
The protesters said the picture had been posted by a Buddhist, and they marched to Buddhist villages and set fire to temples and houses.
Police said they had deployed extra security forces and banned gatherings in Buddhist-dominated areas.
"We brought the situation under control before dawn and imposed restrictions on public gatherings," said Salim Mohammad Jahangir, district police superintendent for Cox's Bazar.
Many people in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh have been angered in recent days by a film made in California that mocked the Prophet.
Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir described the attacks on temples as a "premeditated and deliberate attempt" to disrupt harmony.
Alamgir also promised to rebuild the Buddhist monasteries and temples, and compensate those whose houses were torched.
Muslims in Bangladesh and beyond have also been outraged by violence over the border in Myanmar where members of the majority Buddhist community clashed with minority Muslims this year.
Police had escorted the man accused of posting the insulting photograph and his mother to safety, police superintendent Jahangir said.
Sohel Sarwar Kajal, the Muslim head of the council in the area where the arson took place, said he was trying to restore communal peace.
"We are doing everything possible to quell tension and restore peace between the communities," he told reporters.
Over 100 Buddhists staged a silent protest in the capital Dhaka on Sunday afternoon against the attacks on their temples, witnesses said.
(Reporting by Nurul Islam; Writing by Anis Ahmed; Editing by Robert Birsel and Daniel Magnowski)
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