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UN Envoy in Burma for Talks With Military Leaders

  • VOA News

A senior United Nations envoy is in Burma to urge the military government to end its violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Ibrahim Gambari arrived on Saturday in Rangoon and then headed for the new administrative capital, Naypyidaw, for talks with military leaders. He is trying to broker talks between protesters and the generals who run the country.

Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo, speaking at the United Nations in New York, said he and other diplomats were concerned that Gambari's visit will not accomplish much.

Soldiers and police maintained tight control over the capital city of Rangoon Saturday, dispersing small and scattered protests. In one incident, witnesses say security forces charged a crowd of demonstrators, beat many and arrested five.

In the city of Pakokku, southwest of Mandalay, sources say a group of about one-thousand monks led thousands of people in a peaceful demonstration.

Since Wednesday, Burmese security forces have used gunfire to disperse thousands of protesters. The official death toll is 10, but there are fears the actual number may be far higher.

Military squads in Rangoon and Mandalay have raided and cordoned off Buddhist monasteries, and detained monks accused of instigating the demonstrations.

Human rights groups and exiles with contacts in Burma say the Internet and most other forms of electronic communications were cut off.

Protests in Rangoon and other Burmese cities began last month after the military abruptly doubled fuel prices. The original demonstrations have expanded into a broad demand for democratic reforms.

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