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Myanmar junta declares 'no-go zones' at monasteries

Myanmar's military rulers declare no-go zones around five key Buddhist monasteries to quash anti-government demonstrations.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2007 19:57 IST

Myanmar's military rulers declared no-go zones around five key Buddhist monasteries to quash anti-government demonstrations led by monks, after two days of violent crackdown on the protests killed 10 people, diplomats said on Friday.

A Japanese journalist was among the nine people killed on Thursday when security forces opened fire on groups of protesters in the streets of Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, and one person shot and killed on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people have been arrested since the junta began cracking down on demonstrators by tens of thousands of monks and activists, which represent the stiffest challenge to the country's military rulers in two decades.

The protests began on August 19 over a fuel price hike, then expanded dramatically when monks came out in support of the protests.

Authorities called in Southeast Asian diplomats on Thursday to inform them of the "danger zones" around five Buddhist shrines, including the key protest sites at the Shwedagon and Sule pagodas in Yangon, one of the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of embassy rules.

On Thursday, truckloads of troops in riot gear raided Buddhist monasteries on the outskirts of Yangon, beating and arresting dozens of monks, witnesses and Western diplomats said.

"I really hate the government. They arrest the monks while they are sleeping," said a 30-year-old service worker who witnessed the confrontations from his workplace. "These monks have not done anything except meditating and praying and helping people.