Myanmar Troops Kill 9 More Protesters
The Associated Press
Friday, September 28, 2007; 2:40 AM
YANGON, Myanmar -- Soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds of anti-government demonstrators Thursday, killing at least nine people in the bloodiest day in more than a month of protests demanding an end to military rule.
Bloody sandals lay scattered on some streets as protesters fled shouting "Give us freedom, give us freedom!"
On the second day of a brutal crackdown, truckloads of troops in riot gear also raided Buddhist monasteries on the outskirts of Yangon, beating and arresting dozens of monks, witnesses and Western diplomats said. Japan protested the killing of a Japanese photographer.
Daily demonstrations by tens of thousands have grown into the stiffest challenge to the ruling junta in two decades, a crisis that began Aug. 19 with rallies against a fuel price hike then escalated dramatically when monks began joining the protests.
With the government ignoring international appeals for restraint, troops fired into packs of demonstrators in at least four locations in Yangon, witnesses and a Western diplomat said. Protesters _ some shouting "Give us freedom!" _ dodged roadblocks and raced down alleys in a defiant game of cat and mouse with soldiers and riot police that went on for most of the day.
Some 70,000 protesters were on the streets at the height of the chaos, though the total was difficult to estimate as different groups broke up and later reformed.
On Friday, Myanmar's military rulers declared no-go zones around five key Buddhist monasteries in an effort to quash the demonstrations, a diplomat said after Southeast Asian envoys were called in by Myanmar authorities for a meeting.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing protocol, said regime members told the envoys that security forces had the monks "under control" and would now turn their attention to civilian protesters.
The protesters won support from countrymen abroad as more than 1,000 Myanmar immigrants in Malaysia rallied peacefully Friday outside their country's embassy in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. Riot police backed by water cannon stood watch as the demonstrators shouted "We want democracy!" and held banners that read "Stop killing monks and people."
In Yangon, sandals were strewn by a pool of blood at one spot where people fled approaching police. In a brave challenge, a bare-chested man emerged from one crowd to advance toward riot officers, then was felled by a rubber bullet and suffered a beating by officers who took him away.
The junta's heavy-handed tactics did not bode well for the monks and pro-democracy activists who are trying to bring down a military regime that has ruled since ousting a civilian government in 1962.
State radio said security forces fatally shot nine people, including a Japanese citizen, and wounded 11 people.