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'Come on, just kill me!'

24.com, Sept 28, 2007

Yangon, Myanmar -- Come on, just kill me!" the furious woman shouted as police and soldiers poured into the streets. "I don't care."

An elderly man screamed at them: "You are eating food given to you by the people. Yet you kill people and you kill the monks!"

The scenes of naked defiance and anger at the junta that has ruled Myanmar for more than four decades have underlined the depth of resentment over the crackdown.

Many people are particularly angered by the treatment dealt out to the Buddhist monks who have helped lead the protests against the regime in recent days.

At least four people including three monks have been killed since the crackdown began on Wednesday, with at least 100 injured and hundreds more arrested.

Bitterly angry residents have been exchanging any information they have with strangers, simply keen to let the world know what is going on in their poor and isolated country.

"This is so brutal," said one woman who wept as she spoke. "How can they do this to us, even though they are Buddhists?"

Crowds regroup

Security forces have been trying to crush the protests, which have marked the biggest public challenge to the junta's rule in 20 years.

But the live rounds, baton charges and tear gas failed to deter the people from returning to the streets in their tens of thousands on Thursday.

When the warning shots and ultimatums came, they ran for their lives, along the roads and overhead walkways, into houses and doorways and towards the outskirts of the city.

But in a sign of their determination, they regrouped in large numbers, in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the heavily armed troops.

Some of Myanmar's holiest shrines, which have acted as rallying points in 10 consecutive days of protests, were swathed with barbed wire and barricades and off limit to devotees who normally visit with incense and flowers.

"Now Yangon is like a front in a war zone," a 30-year-old man said as he scuttled nervously through the city streets before the protests started.

Schools, restaurants and most shops were shut. Away from the hot spots the normally crowded streets were largely deserted except for a few women who dashed out to buy food at the handful of market stalls that dared to open.

"Although I'm really afraid to go outside because of the gunshots, I have to earn my living," said one 25-year-old taxi driver.

Bleeding wounds

Inside homes and shops, people huddled around short-wave radios, hoping to catch some news from foreign media about the clampdown.

In eastern Yangon, crowds gathered around the Ngwekyaryan monastery that was raided overnight by security forces.

Some cried openly as they saw how the monastery had been trashed.

A photo of the head monk had been ripped from the wall and thrown to the ground. Some of the monks who escaped returned after dawn with visible wounds, some bleeding from their shaven heads.

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