UN staff member, relatives under arrest in Myanmar

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 3 (Reuters) A local UN staff member, two of her family members and her driver were arrested today in Myanmar during the ruling junta's crackdown on anti-government protests, a UN official said.

Mynt Ngwe Mon, 38, a program assistant for the UN Development Programme, was picked up from her house at 4 am local time along with her husband, Than Tun, and brother-in-law Aung Kyaw Sint, the official said.

Her driver Tin Win was also detained later in the morning at her residence, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The United Nations has appealed to Myanmar's UN mission, saying she was ill and on medication.

A similar letter was sent to Myanmar government officials by Charles Petrie, the senior UN official and humanitarian coordinator in Yangon.

A spokeswoman for UNDP said the agency was ''concerned'' but would not give any details because of the sensitivity of the situation.

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.

Gambari, who is heading back to New York, is due to brief the president of the UN General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, and UN Security Council members on Friday after he sees UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UN sources said the government had invited him back to Myanmar in early November.

At least eight truckloads of prisoners were hauled out of central Yangon today, 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.

REUTERS SBA AS0247

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