LONDON, March 22 (UPI) -- The British government calls on all parties to the conflict in central Myanmar to end hostilities, British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said.
The Myanmar government declared a state of emergency Friday following deadly clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in the central town of Meiktila.
Burt said Britain was "deeply concerned" by the escalation of violence in the country.
"I call on all parties for an immediate end to the violence and urge the government to take all necessary action to protect civilians and to work with communities to tackle the hostility that is behind this," he said in a statement.
Myanmar's recognition for democratic reforms has been overshadowed by internal conflicts. Last year, clashes erupted in Rakhine between religious communities.
The Irrawaddy, a Myanmar newspaper published in Thailand, reported at least 20 people were killed in the violence. Residents told the newspaper that militant Buddhist monks were behind much of the violence. At least 2,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.
Win Htein, a local official from the opposition National League for Democracy, said riot police sent to the scene are inexperienced and "don't know how to react to the clashes."