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Burmese Government: 9 Protesters Dead in Crackdown on Pro-Democracy Demonstrations


The Burmese government says security forces have killed nine protesters and wounded 11 others in Rangoon, during the second day of a crackdown on the largest protests to challenge the military government in decades.

This Thursday evening's announcement on state television followed reports from witnesses that security forces fired shots into large crowds of demonstrators taking part in the pro-democracy protests.

A Japanese journalist was among the dead, following protests in several parts of the city.

Earlier, hundreds of soldiers marched through the city, warning that protesters who did not disperse would be shot.

Witnesses reported soldiers firing shots and using baton charges to disperse demonstrators after at least 10,000 people gathered near the Sule Pagoda to call for peace and freedom. Witnesses also reported gatherings in other areas of the city.

Security forces today raided monasteries and took away at least 100 monks accused of leading the protests. A local resident told VOA that crowds of people in her neighborhood prevented authorities from taking away a group of monks by
surrounding government trucks.

Burmese state radio accused protesters of using intimidation and violence and claimed that the monks had tried to attack a pro-junta paramilitary Union Solidarity and Development Association officer in Rangoon.

Burma's military rulers have also accused foreign media of instigating the demonstrations.

Members of the opposition National League for Democracy say two prominent party members spokesman Myint Thein and senior member Hla Pe were arrested overnight.

On Wednesday, the government said one person was killed when troops opened fire on protesters in Rangoon. Witnesses say the death toll was higher, with at least five people killed in the violence.

The unrest began last month after the government doubled the fuel price. It has since grown into a widespread protest against 45 years of oppressive military rule.

Burma's military regime traditionally suppresses any opposition to its rule. Government forces killed an estimated 3,000 pro-democracy activists in 1988.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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