Buddhist monks walk through a street market in Yangon. Pic: AP.

YANGON, Burma (AP) — The government’s governing body for Buddhist monks is hosting its first conference in 19 years, bringing together the religion’s nine main local sects at a time when there are rising concerns about Buddhist extremists targeting other religions.

The two-day meeting hosted by the State Central Sangha Organization started Monday and brings together more than 2,500 monks from around the country.

Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Sint said the meeting is being held to discuss how to prevent extremists from infiltrating into monks’ organizations and to reform basic rules to cope with an increase in the number of monks to more than half a million. Burma is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but violent conflicts have arisen in the past two years with its Muslim minority.

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