Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the capital and other Burmese cities Tuesday, calling for the ouster of the military-led government, witnesses and diplomats said.
Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but there were reports six people had been shot to death in Moulmein, a city 110 miles east of Rangoon, and of shootings in Tatkon, 240 miles north of the capital, the diplomats said.Radio Rangoon said Buddhist monks led demonstrators in a violent attack on the Moulmein Customs House. The official radio said the demonstrators looted the building and sank one boat.
The crowds in the capital, estimated by diplomats and witnesses to number about 200,000, pushed aside barbed wire barricades, and rifle-toting troops melted away from the central city area as the crowds swelled.
The size of the protest far surpassed the demonstrations in Rangoon that began Aug. 8 with demands for democratic and economic reforms and resulted in more than 1,000 unarmed demonstrators being killed by heavily armed troops.
A diplomat said the demonstrations were the biggest in more than a quarter of a century.
The official media put the number of demonstrators in Rangoon at about 10,000.
Diplomats said they had received reports of crowds estimated at up to 200,000 people marching Tuesday in Mandalay and in Tavoy, while police reported a protest of about 3,000 in the southernmost city of Kawthaung.
The massive popular uprisings led to the ouster of hard line retired general Sein Lwin as Burmese leader earlier this month and his replacement by Maung Maung, a civilian legal scholar.
"In Tavoy, there was a report of 200,000 people demonstrating, completely peacefully, and the local administration has all resigned," said a Western diplomat.
"In Mandalay, the demonstrations were very peaceful, well organized by monks who seemed to be in the lead there, and in one part of that city of 600,000 people, the monks are running it," he said.