Myanmar junta releases 80 detained monks

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YANGON, Oct 3 (Reuters) Myanmar's junta released 80 monks rounded up last week in a crackdown on the biggest anti-government protests in nearly 20 years, one of those freed said today.

The monk, in his mid-20s but too nervous to give any more details of his identity, said he and 79 brethren were returned to their Mingala Yama monastery in Yangon shortly after midnight.

The remaining 16 of 96 arrested during a raid on the monastery -- among hundreds arrested in similar raids on at least 15 Yangon monasteries -- were expected to be freed soon, he said.

The monk said they had been held at a former government technical institute in northern Yangon's Insein district, and been subjected to verbal -- but not physical -- abuse during interrogation. Detainees had received two meals a day, he said.

REUTERS SG BST1231

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