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Myanmar rebels back monks' protests

Ethnic rebels support Buddhist monks leading anti-government protests and urge similar groups to unite in opposing the regime.

world Updated: Sep 27, 2007 11:51 IST

A band of ethnic rebels on Thursday threw its support behind Buddhist monks leading anti-government protests in Myanmar and urged other similar groups to unite in opposing the regime.

The Karen National Union (KNU), which has battled the government for 57 years in one of the world's longest-running insurgencies, condemned the government's violent crackdown to disperse protesters.

The KNU urged 17 ethnic rebel groups that have signed ceasefires with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the junta calls itself, to unite in opposing the government.

"This shooting and violence is like fuelling the movement of the Sanghas (clergy) and the people. If violence and shooting continue, the SPDC military clique must bear all the consequences," the KNU said in a statement.

"We urge all the ethnic ceasefire groups to join forces with the Sanghas and the people and unite in revolt against the SPDC military dictatorship clique."

The KNU is the largest rebel group fighting Myanmar's armed forces and one of the few remaining ethnic insurgent groups yet to sign a peace deal with the junta.

The group once controlled broad swaths of eastern Myanmar but now is reduced mainly to a string of bases pressed against the Thai border.