Bangladesh vows to protect Buddhists after Facebook photo attacks (+video)
Bangladeshi Muslims burned at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes in anger over a Facebook photo of a burned Quran this weekend.
Hundreds of Buddhists who fled their southern Bangladesh villages in the wake of attacks by Muslims started returning home Monday amid heightened security and more than 160 arrests.
The Buddhists moved to safety after an overnight weekend attack in which thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims burned at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes in anger over a Facebook photo of a burned Quran.
Army soldiers, paramilitary border guards and police were deployed, and the government has banned all public gatherings in the troubled areas near the southern border with Myanmar, said Lt. Col. Jaed Hossain, a military commander who was helping to install tents for displaced Buddhists.
"They are coming back. We are giving them protection," Hossain said at Merunglua village in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar on Monday.
Hossain said about 1,000 Buddhist families fled their homes after the attacks were launched late Saturday. As the unrest continued through early Sunday, many Buddhist-owned homes and shops were looted. Nojibul Islam, a Cox's Bazar police chief, said at least 20 people were injured.
Many in the impoverished neighborhood of Merunglua lost everything.
"I was in my shop. They suddenly came and set my shop on fire," grocery owner Prodip Barua told The Associated Press. "I started running and took my two children and wife from my home and fled the area."