Troops Take Back Control in Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Soldiers and police took control of the streets Friday, firing warning shots and tear gas to scatter the few pro-democracy protesters who ventured out as Myanmar's military junta sealed off Buddhist monasteries and cut public Internet access.
On the third day of a harsh government crackdown, the streets were empty of the mass gatherings that had peacefully challenged the regime daily for nearly two weeks, leaving only small groups of activists to be chased around by security forces.
"Bloodbath again! Bloodbath again!" a Yangon resident yelled while watching soldiers break up one march by shooting into air, firing tear gas and beating people with clubs.
Thousands of monks had provided the backbone of the protests, but they were besieged in their monasteries, penned in by locked gates and barbed wire surrounding the compounds in the two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. Troops stood guard outside and blocked nearby roads to keep the clergymen isolated.
The United Nations' special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, was heading to the country to promote a political solution and could arrive as early as Saturday, one Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
While some analysts thought negotiations an unlikely prospect, the diplomat said the junta's decision to let Gambari in "means they may see a role for him and the United Nations in mediating dialogue with the opposition and its leaders."
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