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Sunday, 10 March, 2002, 15:09 GMT
Top Burma officials sacked
Former Burmese dictator Ne Win
Ne Win's relatives are accused of plotting an overthrow
Burmese Government officials have privately confirmed that three senior military officers have been sacked.

Those dismissed are the head of Burma's air force, the country's chief of police and the recently-appointed military head of the country's northern region.

Map showing Burma in Asia
Burma's military authorities announced earlier that they had arrested the son-in-law and three grandsons of former strongman Ne Win on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

The BBC's correspondent in Rangoon, Larry Jagan, says a major purge of the military is believed to be under way, but it is not clear whether the sackings are connected to the arrests.

Emergency talks

No official statement has been made about the fate of air force chief Major General Myint Swe, police chief Major General Soe Win or the other sacked commander.

Diplomats believe the country's senior generals are currently involved in tense discussions inside what is known as the War Office.

Aung San Suu Kyi
There are fears that talks with Suu Kyi could be derailed

The country's leader, General Than Shwe, has not been home for more than two days, diplomats say.

Our correspondent says that the streets of Rangoon are relatively calm, but there is apprehension as the move is being seen as a sign that the hardliners in the army have now got the upper hand.

Many fear that the purge will be used to root out the liberals who have been supporting the dialogue process with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, like the intelligence chief Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt.

Gang violence

In contrast, our correspondent says that in private many residents are delighted that the generals have finally moved against the Ne Win family.

Arrested
Aye Zaw Win, son-in-law
Aye Ne Win, grandson
Kyaw Ne Win, grandson
Zwe Ne Win, grandson

The antics of the three grandsons, in particular, have angered many residents.

They are the gang leaders of a notorious hooligan crowd known as the Scorpions that has been causing havoc in the capital's upmarket restaurants and nightclubs, our correspondent says.

Major-General Kyaw Win, the deputy chief of military intelligence, said Ne Win's son-in-law Aye Zaw Win and his children were taken into custody on Thursday.

"We have arrested them for attempting to seize the state power and to split the armed forces," the general said.

Foiled conspiracy

Ne Win - now in his 90s - seized control of Burma in 1962 and continued to wield influence after he stepped down in 1988.

General Kyaw Win denied earlier reports that Ne Win himself and his daughter, Dandar Win, had been arrested.

Aye Zaw Win, a prominent businessman, is the daughter's husband.

He and his sons were arrested at a restaurant in Rangoon, where they had been discussing their plans with an unnamed former commanding officer, General Kyaw Win said.

The military intelligence officer said a number of military units and "some commanding officers" had also been involved in the plot, which was foiled in "the nick of time".

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma turns on the charm
25 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burma
05 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
China and Burma denounce US report
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma sanctions: The case for
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma sanctions: The case against
25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Burma
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