State of emergency declared for western Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's president has declared a state of emergency in a western state where sectarian tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have unleashed deadly violence.

Thein Sein issued the declaration in a short speech televised nationally Sunday night. A state of emergency effectively allows the military to take over administrative functions for the area affected.

The move follows rioting on Friday in two areas of Rakhine state that state media say left at least seven people dead and 17 wounded, and saw hundreds of houses burned down. The unrest spread on Saturday and Sunday.

Thein Sein called on the people, religious bodies, political parties, civil society and the media to join hands with the government to maintain the rule of law.

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