The United States voiced concern Friday about the mob killing of Muslims in Myanmar and called for the country's reform-minded government to move forward in reconciling with minorities.
Tensions have flared in western Myanmar since Sunday, when an angry Buddhist mob killed 10 Muslims on a bus after mistakenly believing that they perpetrated the rape and murder of a woman.
"We are deeply concerned about the reports that a mob killed 10 individual Muslim pilgrims, pulling them from a bus and beating them to death," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"We're obviously saddened by this tragic loss of life. It speaks to the importance of the government and the minorities redoubling efforts on a peace process that includes a ceasefire and real negotiations."
Officials said that four more people were killed in fresh violence Friday in Rakhine state, apparently when Muslims torched Buddhist villages.
Since taking office last year, President Thein Sein has reached out to ethnic minority groups, largely in the north of Myanmar, that have been fighting for decades against the Burman-dominated government and army.
But divisions remain deep with Muslims, who are estimated to account for about four percent of the population in the Buddhist-dominated country formerly known as Burma.
The 750,000-strong Rohingya Muslim community is singled out for particular disdain and is not even recognized as a minority group. The United Nations considers the Rohingya to be among the world's most persecuted minorities.