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Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi Arrested - 2003-06-01


Burma's ruling military says pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and at least 17 top members of her opposition National League for Democracy have been arrested.

A junta spokesman said today (Saturday) Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters were placed in "protective custody" late Friday after clashes between her National League for Democracy party and a pro-government group. Junta officials said four people were killed and 50 were injured during the violence in the northern town of Yaway Oo, about 560 kilometers from Rangoon.

A junta spokesman said the violence was due to the opposition leader's inflammatory speeches that criticized the government. He denied reports that Aung San Suu Kyi's car had been shot at.

The State Department said it hopes the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party is brief and they will be freed immediately.

Local reports said the junta had shut down the NLD party's headquarters Saturday in Rangoon. Witnesses say security officials padlocked the office door and are stationed outside its gates, and that the office's phone lines were cut.

The State Department urged the Burmese military rulers to immediately allow the NLD headquarters to open.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been touring northern Burma's Kachin state for the past month, opening party offices and giving speeches. Leaders of her party have complained of harassment and intimidation by government supporters during the trip.

The National League for Democracy won Burma's last parliamentary election by a landslide in 1990, but the military refused to relinquish power. The election campaign and the vote coincided with the longest period Aung San Suu Kyi was held under house arrest, from 1989 to 1995.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AP.

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