DHAKA, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Some 235 people have so far been arrested in three southeastern Bangladesh districts since the country's worst religious violence in which mobs and miscreants attacked on Buddhist temples, monasteries and homes following an alleged desecration of Muslim holy book of Qu'ran on a social network site, police officials said Tuesday.
They said all the arrestees have been charged with torching and damaging dozens of houses, temples and monasteries of Buddhists and attempting to spoil communal harmony in the districts -- Cox's Bazar, Chittagong and Bandarban, close to the border with Buddhist- majority Myanmar.
"We've arrested a total of 169 people in connection with the violent incidents in Cox's Bazaar," Selim Md Jahangir, the district's police chief, told Xinhua Tuesday over mobile phone.
He said 16 Buddhist temples and monasteries were fully or partially burnt and damaged in Ramu sub-district of Cox's Bazar during the frenzy that started around 10:30 p.m. local time on Saturday night.
Thousands of Muslim mobs believed to be inspired and organized by vested groups went on the rampage in a Buddhist-majority village -- Merunloa -- following the alleged desecration of Muslim holy book of Qur'an by a Buddhist man of the village on the social network Facebook.
"We've come to know that the village's Buddhist man, namely Uttom Kumar Barua, has taken a photo of trampling on the holy Qur' an and uploaded it from his Facebook account," Faruk Ahmed, a senior police officer, had earlier told Xinhua from Cox's Bazar district, some 391 km southeast of capital Dhaka.
He said after the news about the defaming picture spread, hundreds of Muslims, who seemed already angry with a U.S.-made anti- Islam film and the recent incidents of repression of Muslims in the Rakhine State of neighboring Myanmar, had taken to the streets and launched attacks on the houses and the temples before the law enforcers reached the scenes to bring situation under control in the wee hours of Sunday.
Security measures have been beefed up in the village and law enforcers are guarding all the Buddhist temples to check any further untoward incident, Jahangir said Tuesday, adding the ban slapped Sunday on gatherings for an indefinite period in the violence-hit areas remains in effect.
He said the situation is now completely under control after the incidents of religious violence which are said to be the worst since the South Asian country's independence in 1971.
He further said that the district administration held a number of peace meetings with participation of leaders of religious communities to maintain calm after the attacks which also spread to Cox's Bazar's adjacent Chittagong district, some 242 km southeast of capital Dhaka.
The violence over anti-Islam picture on Facebook spread to Chittagong district, as miscreants vandalized two more Buddhist temples in a village on Sunday morning.
The district's police Chief ZA Morshed Tuesday said peace meetings have also been convened in many places of the district.
He sad, "a total of 32 people have been arrested in the district after the miscreants vandalized two temples."
Situation remains peaceful as the law enforcers tightened their vigilance in the areas where there are religious minorities, he added.
As the news about the defaming picture spread, hundreds of Muslim mobs on Sunday also took to the streets in another southeastern Bandarban district, some 316 km southeast of Dhaka, but police drove them away soon.
"We arrested 34 people as they brought out procession and tried to smash police cars," said the district's police chief Kamrul Ahsan.
But he said no unpleasant incident has so far taken place in the district which inhabits a large number of Buddhists which makes up less than 1 percent of Muslim majority Bangladesh's about 153 million population.
Bangladesh's Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir who visited the violence hit areas Sunday blamed radical Islamists for the attacks but did not name any group or parties.
During his visit to the violence ridden areas, Alamgir promised to bring the culprits to book within 15 days and rebuild the Buddhist monasteries and temples and compensate the victims whose houses were destroyed.
He said, "we've seen the Facebook photo. In the photo, we saw a foreigner woman who kept her foot on the holy book. We assume the photo was supplied from abroad, but Uttam might have acted as an agent. We are trying to know about his Facebook network."
Although the country's investigation agencies say they are not sure whether this was Uttam's own misdeed or he was used by vested interest groups to create anarchic situation by spoiling communal harmony, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League party and her arch rival ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party have engaged in a blame game over the attacks on Buddhists.