Police crack down on ongoing demonstrations

Sep 26, 2007 (DVB), As demonstrations continue today in Rangoon, police have responded with crackdowns across the city, reportedly leaving some monks injured.

At 11.30am protesting monks tried to reach Shwedagon pagoda through the stairwell on its eastern side. On realising the gates were closed, the monks came back down the hill and tried to negotiate with pagoda officials to gain access to the pagoda compound, but encountered riot police who were waiting on the hill.

"The police were armed with shields and batons and they shouted profanities at the monks while beating them up. I saw about 5 to 10 young novices with their heads bleeding," said an eyewitness, who claimed that some officers at the back of the group were armed with automatic rifles.

Witnesses have also reported a number of crackdowns in other areas of Rangoon, with riot police throwing tear gas grenades. A total of about 20 grenades were said to have been used.

On Bahan (3) road, near Shwedagon pagoda, police armed with bamboo sticks were seen beating monks, nuns and civilians as they tried to flee. A local resident reported seeing protestors running through the streets to escape police, and other witnesses have reported that tear gas grenades were used.

Despite the crackdowns, protestors are continuing to demonstrate, with groups of protestors from different places coming together to march towards Sule pagoda. The police response has increased tensions, and witnesses have heard people shouting profanities at passing military trucks.

Reporting by DVB

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