Myanmar junta arrests more; UN envoy in Singapore

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YANGON, Oct 3 (Reuters) Myanmar's junta arrested more people today, hours after the departure of a UN envoy who came to the country to try to end a ruthless crackdown on protests that has sparked international outrage.

At least eight truckloads of prisoners were hauled out of central Yangon, the former Burma's biggest city and focus of last week's monk-led protests against decades of military rule and deepening economic hardship, witnesses said.

In one house near the Shwedagon Pagoda, the holiest shrine in the Buddhist nation and starting point for the rallies, only a 13-year-old girl remained. Her parents were taken, she said.

''They warned us not to run away as they might be back,'' she said after people from rows of shophouses were ordered into the street in the middle of the night. Many were detained.

A staff member of the UN Development Fund and her husband and brother-in-law were arrested early today during a sweep by Myanmar authorities, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York. The United Nations is appealing to Myanmar's UN mission to secure her release.

The crackdown continued despite some hopes of progress by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari on his mission to persuade junta chief Than Shwe to relax his grip and open talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom Gambari met twice.

Singapore, the current chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Myanmar is a member, said it ''was encouraged by the access and cooperation given by the Myanmar government to Mr Gambari.'' The envoy was in Singapore on his way back to New York but is unlikely to say anything publicly before briefing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Gambari was expected to return to Myanmar in early November, UN sources said.

But there were no signs how his mission and international pressure might change the policies of a junta which seldom heeds outside pressure, has endured years of sanctions by Western governments and rarely admits UN officials.


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