Bangladesh Muslims torch Buddhist shrines, police say

Rioters torched Buddhist temples and homes in Bangladesh over a Facebook photo deemed offensive to Islam.

Story highlights

  • At least 12 temples, 50 houses are damaged or destroyed, officials say
  • Muslims protest a photo of a partially burned Quran on Facebook
  • The account of the Buddhist boy tagged in the photo is deleted
  • Bangladeshi Muslims also recently protested against the online film "The Innocence of Muslims"

Crowds of angry Muslims attacked Buddhist shrines and homes, torching some of them Sunday in Bangladesh to protest after a photo of a partially burned Quran was posted on Facebook, police said.

The protesters chanted anti-Buddhist slogans, blaming the burning of the Muslim holy book on a Buddhist boy, district police superintendent Saleem Jahangir said.

The boy is tagged in the photo but did not post it himself, Jahangir said. The boy's account has been deleted and police are not naming him.

The violence began in Ramu in Cox's Bazar, a town south of the capital Dhaka on the coast, early Sunday and it spread in the adjacent areas through Sunday evening, Jainul Bari, administrative chief of the tourist district, told CNN.

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

At least seven temples were burned in Ramu and five others were damaged in other areas, police said. At least 50 houses were damaged or destroyed, they said.

Police were not able to provide information on the number of people injured in the violence.

"Now the situation is under control," Jahangir said.

Bangladesh Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, who visited the scene of the violence Sunday, said blamed the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party for the attacks. The minister said the violence was planned, citing evidence of gunpowder and petrol found in the burnt monasteries and houses.

The government formed a committee to investigate the violence, with a report due in 10 days.

The south Asian nation is about 90% Muslim, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimated in its 2011 survey of the global Muslim population.

It is less than 1% Buddhist.

Actual or reported Quran burning has led to violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Relatively peaceful Bangladesh was one of many countries that saw demonstrations recently against the online video "The Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and child abuser.