The United States on Friday evacuated five American diplomats from Burma, where the new military leadership appeared to be firmly in control after a crackdown on anti-government protests, authorities said.
A C-12 plane from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok evacuated the five diplomats from Rangoon as part of a 25 percent reduction in the embassy's staff. Five more envoys are to be evacuated Saturday or Monday.The evacuation followed the suspension of $12.2 million in U.S. aid to Burma until conditions are "ripe" for a restoration of assistance. The army is reported to have killed hundreds of protesters in the crackdown on dissidents.
Opposition sources said that although there were no demonstrations in Rangoon Friday, a nationwide strike was continuing, and workers planned to defy the military government's order to return to work by Oct. 3.
Troops regained control Thursday of Mandalay, the nation's second largest city, which had been under control of monks and anti-government citizens' committees for a month.
Heavy military patrols in Rangoon tore down barricades that were erected during clashes this week, but Rangoon Radio said anti-government demonstrators captured more weapons and attacked the telecommunications system.
The reports indicated the emergence of a new opposition tactic to blunt the army's crackdown on six months of pro-democracy demonstrations, which have led to the downfall of three governments since June.
The military seized power Sunday in a coup that toppled the month-old regime of civilian President Maung Maung and installed Gen. Saw Maung as Burma's leader.
A Western diplomat said the death toll in clashes since Sunday may be greater than last month, when troops are believed to have killed more than 1,000 unarmed demonstrators.