Riot training given to Rangoon civilians

Sept 21, 2009 (DVB), Riot training is being offered by local authorities to hundreds of jobless men in Burma's former capital of Rangoon, a resident of the city said yesterday.

Around 1500 people in more than 10 townships surrounding Rangoon are being offered the training in government-run school compounds, according to the resident.

"The police and the fire brigade are providing the training to about 10 to 15 people in every ward; around 150 in total in every township," said the Rangoon resident, adding that the 1500 kyat ($US1.50) offered for the training has attracted many unemployed people.

Meanwhile, locals in central Burma's Magwe division have said authorities are providing basic combat training in villages, demanding at least three people from every village take part.

A local in Myothit township said that training is being conducted in the town's sports grounds.

"There are 53 villages in the area and authorities are demanding three people from every village to attend," he said. "The training is being conducted by the fire brigade."

A similar activity was reported in Bago division's Zeegone township earlier this month, with riot training being provided for members of the junta proxy group, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA).

Training was also given to voluntary fire brigade and local Myanmar Red Cross Society members at military grounds.

It is so far unclear why the training is being offered, although there is speculation that it could be in preparation for the elections next year.

It also coincides with the anniversary of the September 2007 monk-led uprising, at a time when the Burmese government is tightening security in fear of another series of protests.

Reporting by Min Lwin

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