Army trucks loaded with troops rolled toward the center of the capital Wednesday with orders to shoot looters, who were sacking government buildings, factories and farms.
The U.S. Embassy in Rangoon ordered an evacuation of 95 American dependents as a "precautionary measure," said Ross Petzing, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Bangkok. He said the evacuees would be sent to Bangkok."The streets are deserted; people are pretty much in fear of their property. Things have pretty much closed down," said a Western diplomat in Rangoon. "There is a widespread perception that things have deteriorated."
Wednesday was the first time in nearly three weeks that the military presence had been obvious in Rangoon, where looting broke out Tuesday.
The diplomat said he saw about 10 trucks with at least 20 soldiers in each vehicle late Tuesday around Rangoon University and Shwedagon Pagoda, both gathering spots for anti-government protesters. The protesters have been demonstrating against 26 years of authoritarian rule.
"The defense forces and the people's police force shall open fire to impose control should they find that these looters, bent on violence, continue their acts," state-run Rangoon Radio announced as the troops rolled in.