Thursday, 27 September 2007

Nine killed in Burmese crackdown

The military warned protesters to go home or face 'serious action'Nine people have been killed amid a crackdown on anti-government protesters in Burma's main city of Rangoon, state television has reported. The dead included eight protesters and a Japanese man identified by Japan's APF News as a video journalist.
Eleven demonstrators and 31 soldiers were injured, state media said.
The clashes came on the 10th day of protests against Burma's military rulers led by the country's Buddhist monks. Hundreds have been arrested. Security forces on Thursday had to fire warning shots as protesters tried to take their weapons, the state television report said.
Witnesses said it was unclear whether bullets were fired into the crowd or above heads.
We still think that because there is a very, very heavy guard presence on University Avenue that [Aung San Suu Kyi] must be in her house halfway down that street Mark CanningBritish Ambassador in Rangoon
The military had been broadcasting warnings that the protesters should go home or face "serious action". World leaders have renewed their calls for an end to the violence. Japan's foreign ministry said it was working to identify a man found dead in Rangoon carrying a Japanese passport. The Japanese news agency APF News named the dead man as Kenji Nagai, a video journalist who had been in Burma for the agency since Tuesday.
The fresh protests follow reports of overnight raids on six monasteries. According to witnesses, soldiers smashed windows and doors and beat the sleeping monks. Some escaped but hundreds of monks were taken away in military trucks.

Key flashpoints in Rangoon:
Two members of the National League for Democracy, the party led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, were also arrested overnight. Britain's ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, told the BBC he believed Ms Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, amid reports she had been sent to Rangoon's Insein prison.
"We still think that because there is a very, very heavy guard presence on University Avenue that she must be in her house halfway down that street," he said. Around midday, thousands of people poured onto the streets of Rangoon in an apparently spontaneous show of defiance. They began singing nationalist songs and hurling abuse at the soldiers driving by in trucks.
The soldiers responded with gunfire.
"They have shot several times into the crowd," one witness told the BBC.
Fewer monks
There are fewer monks on the streets - since so many were arrested - and there are large numbers of civilians instead, reports the BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok. The military may now have fewer qualms about firing on the crowd, our correspondent says, as monks are held in high esteem in Buddhist Burma.
A hotel in which foreign journalists have been staying in Rangoon has been surrounded and ransacked, our correspondent reports. Security forces have set up barbed wire barricades around Shwedagon Pagoda and Rangoon city hall, two of the focal points for the demonstrations.
On Wednesday, five people were reported to have been killed when police broke up protests. The military government has confirmed one death.