9/28/07

Soldiers break up Burma protests

"Soldiers and police have baton-charged Burmese protesters who tried to stage a further day of marches in Rangoon

ecurity forces sealed off five monasteries that were focal points of previous mass marches, in a bid to prevent further demonstrations.

Official media said nine people were killed on Thursday as troops fired tear gas and bullets to clear large crowds of protesters off Rangoon's streets.

British and Australian ambassadors in Burma say the toll was probably higher.

"Observers say the death rate could be many multiples of that number, and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that," British ambassador Mark Canning told the BBC.

The security presence in Rangoon on Friday was the heaviest yet, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head.

Troops sealed off the key religious sites in Rangoon, including the Shwedagon and Sule pagodas - the focal point of some of the larger protests earlier in the week.


Burmese sources told the BBC that international mobile phone signals have been interrupted and soldiers are searching people for cameras and mobile phones.

Dissidents have been using the internet to get pictures and video of the protests and the military crackdown to international news outlets - who then fed them back into Burma via the internet and satellite TV."
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"Warning shots

Correspondents say Rangoon looked like a city locked down on Friday morning but at about 1300 local time (0700GMT), small groups of protesters began gathering.

Some were immediately rounded up. Within minutes, shots could be heard - but it was not clear if they were being fired into the crowds or overhead in warning. A witness told the BBC that a number of people were killed in Friday's violence.

Loudspeaker trucks have been criss-crossing the city, warning people not to protect anyone fleeing arrest."
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"He said witnesses had told embassy staff they had seen "significantly more than that number of dead being removed from the scene of the demonstrations" in Rangoon"
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"The BBC's Jonathan Head says Burma's rulers have turned their backs on the world and the torrent of outrage their actions have provoked.

The first opportunity to communicate that outrage will be when the UN special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, arrives in Burma in the next day or two, when he will try to persuade the generals to put a stop to the crackdown. "
All the main roads into central Rangoon have been blocked.

Internet severed

Information from Burma has become increasingly patchy. Internet access has been cut in Rangoon and is only partially available elsewhere.

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