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Burmese Authorities Detain Fuel Protesters as Unrest Spreads


Witnesses in Burma say authorities have detained protesters in the country's largest city, Rangoon, today, and that unrest over a sharp increase in fuel prices has spread to the port city of Sittwe.

In Sittwe, witnesses say a crowd of hundreds of people, mostly Buddhist monks, held a gathering on a main street. The port city is located some several hundred kilometers northwest of Rangoon.

It is the first time that monks have joined the fuel price protests since they began more than a week ago. Monks played a key role in a 1988 uprising against Burma's military rule that was violently crushed.

In Rangoon, witnesses say plainclothes police broke up a protest of at least 30 people. It is not clear how many were arrested.

Security forces already have rounded up at least 50 activists, and undercover police have maintained a strong presence in Rangoon since the protests began.

The protests are a bold move in the police state, where more than 1200 activists are imprisoned.

The last major demonstrations in Burma took place in 1988, when student activists led an uprising against military rule. Those mass demonstrations were triggered by the public's frustration with the poor economy. An estimated three thousand people were killed when the army put down the protests.

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