Militant student demonstrators marched in Rangoon's streets on Tuesday to demand that the government quit in a grim atmosphere that contrasted sharply with the carnival air of previous pro-democracy protests.

An Asian diplomat described the marchers passing his embassy: "They seem to be the hard core, cause-oriented students. They are definitely more organized, more grim."As he spoke to Reuters, three bursts of automatic rifle fire were heard, scattering the crowd. The shots apparently came from a warehouse where there had been looting in the past, the diplomat said.

At a mass demonstration on Monday a group of students, described by a diplomat as a "small kamikaze faction," handed out leaflets in the name of the All-Burma Students Union calling for civil war if the government did not resign.

Student and senior opposition leaders continue to call for the peaceful toppling of the Burma Socialist Programme Party.