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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Burma 'still hunting protesters'
Troops and a military truck in Rangoon on 1 October 2007
Troops have made thousands of arrests in recent weeks
Burma's leaders say they will continue searching for protesters who took part in the recent anti-government uprising.

According to a statement in an official newspaper, almost 3,000 people have been detained since the government began its crackdown on the protests.

The statement added that only 500 were still in custody, but diplomats believe the numbers detained are far higher.

The UN envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, said he had been invited back to Burma in mid-November.

Mr Gambari visited the ruling generals, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in the immediate aftermath of the crackdown.

He is currently touring Burma's neighbouring countries to press them to use their influence with the Burmese authorities.

'Being interrogated'

The statement from the ruling junta was carried on the front page of The New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

"Those who led, got involved in and supported the unrest which broke out in September were called in and are being interrogated," it said.

Unidentified Burmese military officials
Burma's military government shows few signs of conciliation

"Some are still being called in for questioning and those who should be released will be."

A total of 2,927 people had been detained and nearly 500 were still being held, it said.

The number of arrests is an increase of almost 800 since the government's last official figures on 8 October.

Those released had been required to sign "pledges". The statement did not explain what these were, but some reports suggest they were a promise not to participate in further protests.

On Tuesday the Red Cross said it was appealing to Burma for access to the detainees, but said it had yet to establish a meaningful dialogue with the country's leaders.

International divisions

International pressure has been mounting on Burma in the wake of the crackdown.

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is visiting Burma's neighbours and key trading allies for talks before a planned return there.

Both the EU and the US have increased their sanctions on Burma, and the US said earlier this week that it was considering further measures. Japan has cut a portion of its aid.

But Burma's largest trading allies, China and India, have not taken similar steps, and on Tuesday Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said there would be no threat of sanctions or suspension from the Association of South East Nations (Asean).

Burma's leaders, for their part, appear to remain defiant.

In a statement on Tuesday they ruled out a change of political course and questioned the need for UN involvement, saying that events in Burma did not threaten the region.

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