Riot police charge Yangon crowd, shots fired

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YANGON, Sep 27 (Reuters) Myanmar riot police charged a chanting crowd of more than 1,000 protesters after they pelted soldiers with rocks and water bottles in central Yangon today and at least one person collapsed as shots were fired, witnesses said.

One man was on the ground, unconscious, but it was not clear whether he was alive or dead or whether he had been hit by a bullet or a smoke bomb cannister, they said.

The trouble began when three truckloads of soldiers drove up the road to Sule Pagoda -- the end point of daily mass protests this week against 45 years of military rule and dire economic hardship -- where the crowd was demonstrating.

The crowd parted to let the trucks through, but then pelted them with whatever was to hand. The soldiers responded with what appeared to be smoke bombs, shots were fired and the protesters fled in several directions, the witnesses said.

One group of about 200 people retreated about 200 metres (yards) and took up their chants again, calling on the junta not to arrest monks, release political prisoners and cut prices.

The military government has admitted one person was killed on Wednesday in the latest mass demonstration which grew from small protest marches against massive fuel price increases in August.

REUTERS YA RK1320

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