Security tightened in Bago ahead of protest anniversary

Sep 2, 2008 (DVB), As the first anniversary of the September protests approaches, security has been tightened around pagoda compounds in Bago and police have been patrolling the town.

Armed security personnel have been deployed around the famous Shwe Mawdaw pagoda, where many other pagodas are situated, and three police cars have been patrolling the town day and night, locals said.

One Bago resident said there was a noticeable security presence with personnel equipped with shields and batons.

"They are quite numerous near the pagoda where last year's September protest started and there are many monasteries around the pagoda," the resident said.

"Three cars packed with police have been patrolling and there are two other cars, one positioned at the top of the pagoda road and one at the entrance to the pagoda, and police are placed at every street junction," he went on.

"Nothing is happening. It looks as if they are just watching to see what will happen."

Teashops and restaurants have also been ordered to close before 10pm, and potential flashpoints are being kept under close watch.

"Restaurateurs and trishaw drivers told me that they have been ordered not to open their shops after ten and not to pick up passengers," the Bago resident said.

"It is not happening in the whole town, just here and there, at the spots they are worried about."

Security is being stepped up around the country as a precaution against commemorative protests one year after mass public demonstrations were brutally crushed by the military regime.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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