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Old 26-09-2007, 01:43 PM   #141 (permalink)
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Myanmar pagoda sealed off, monks beaten: witnesses
Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:17 AM EDT
By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar security forces sealed off Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda on Wednesday, fired tear gas and arrested up to 80 monks trying to get into the shrine, cracking down on the biggest anti-junta protests in nearly 20 years.

Witnesses said some of the deeply revered Buddhist clergy were beaten and manhandled by riot police taking them away from the shrine, the starting point for the past week's monk-led protests against 45 years of military rule.

The atmosphere at the gilded shrine was "very tense," one witness said, with onlookers angry at the use of violence against the maroon-clad monks.

Troops and riot police also took up positions outside at least six big activist monasteries, a clear sign the generals were trying to prevent any attempt at a repeat of mass marches through Yangon and Mandalay, the second city.

Hundreds of soldiers waited in a park behind Yangon's Sule Pagoda, the city-centre end point of the marches and scene of some of the worst bloodshed when troops opened fire on protesters in 1988, the former Burma's last major uprising.
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