Hundreds of students defied new martial law measures Thursday, marching through the capital and shouting anti-government slogans before troops fired warning shots, witnesses said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests in the clash between the young demonstrators and soldiers led by martial law administrator Brig. Gen. Myo Nyunt, commander of the Rangoon Division Military Command.The government, saying demonstrations in Rangoon were "out of control," proclaimed martial law in the city Wednesday night after months of nationwide unrest in which more than 100 people are believed to have died.
It was the first time a state of emergency has been imposed in socialist Burma since 1974 student riots.
Diplomatic sources said the toughened action appeared to be aimed at stopping a general strike called for Monday by dissident students to protest the government of new President Sein Lwin.
Under the provisions of martial law and a state of emergency declared Wednesday, all public gatherings and protests are forbidden, but that failed to dissuade hundreds of students who quickly tested the harsh clampdown.
One group of more than 200 students assembled Thursday near the Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon. Some of them shouted "Down with the government" before troops moved in and chased them down small alleys, witnesses said.